HarvardOCS

Apr 08

Arts & Museums Fellow: Leah Schulson

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Leah Schulson ‘14
Arts & Museum Fellows Program
Boston Children’s Museum

Sure, most of the walls are lime green. And it’s hard to go more than a few minutes without hearing a kids talking, or giggling, or banging on old pots and pans to learn about the physics of sound. But my time at Boston Children’s Museum (BCM) hasn’t been all play. I’ve been working with Grants and Development, helping to research potential funders, edit grant proposals and follow-up reports, and update records of past grants.

The nature of grant work, though, is such that you really have to understand the details of the project for which you’re seeking funding: how it was developed, its importance, and how it will fit into the rest of the museum’s work. Therefore, I’ve been exposed to so many facets of the museum. I’ve gone into Boston to sit in on meetings with a community partner about a potential collaboration. I’ve combed through old grant proposals to get a sense of how BCM thinks about healthy lifestyles. I’ve researched hundreds of foundations to understand what they’re funding. And I’ve gotten the chance to talk to my incredible coworkers about what they’re doing, and the challenges that they’re facing.

And, when things slow down a little, I’ve gotten the chance to walk through the museum and see everyone’s work come together into shining moments: toddlers concentrating on construction work, kids examining live turtles, and whole families rocking out (and learning about healthy exercise) on the Kid Power dance floor.

Learn more about the Arts & Museums Fellows Program:

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Photo of Boston Children’s Museum from Wikimedia Creative Commons user Twp.

Apr 07

“You’ll find out that it’s not about having a plan — it’s about life’s plan for you. Expect the unexpected.” — Words of wisdom gleaned from the Careers in Africa panel by OCS blogger Julia Eger. Read the full story.

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One of our bloggers reports from the recent Careers in Africa panel, sharing nine tips for work in Africa—and beyond! Panelists included Freeman Awindaogo, MPH ’14; Lydia Hsu, EdM ’14; Laura Melle, MPP ’15; Seni Sulyman, MBA ’14; and Kerry Williams, MPA ’14.

Here are nine things you must know if you want to go into a career in Africa: 

1. School is just a toolkit

A diversity of degrees is good for any post-graduate career. But don’t forget the other skills that can be even more important — can you learn quickly? Can you work well with other people? Can you think on your feet?

2. Have a vision

It’s critical to have a general vision of what you want to accomplish in your career. With a vision you can basically sway in the wind. You can take different skills from different jobs and apply them to get to where you want to be.

3. Embrace the awkward

In Africa, it’s going to be awkward to begin to assimilate to an entirely new culture. Don’t shy away from that. Use the language barrier to your advantage. Ask questions that push the boundaries, think of everything as a cultural exchange. Go in with an open mind.

4. Be flexible

For those considering fellowships, there is a lot of flexibility and opportunity to structure your time the way you want it. You’ll have the opportunity to meet so many people outside of your bubble. Enjoy this flexibility, even if you don’t necessarily have a plan.

5. Explore beyond the city

Sometimes, living in a smaller community outside of the city can be a better expatriate experience because you can work more directly with members of the community. Living outside the city is often a better way to integrate into the culture.

6. Be aware of your impact

If you’re going out in the world to “do good,” be aware that your good intentions might have unintended consequences. Spend time listening and looking at what’s going on around you.

7. Watch out for corruption

Be extremely careful about the company or organization you’re working for, and who runs it. Make sure you do your research before you start because corruption can be a huge issue.

8. Don’t stick to your plan

You’ll find out that it’s not about having a plan, but it’s about life’s plan for you. If you try to follow a path, you’ll just fall off of it. Branch out. Expect the unexpected.

9. Write home

Even if your work is based in Africa, you have a responsibility to educate people in the United States about what’s happening in these countries. Help spread awareness of what you’re working on.

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OCS adviser Loredana George welcomes guest panelists.

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Regional cuisine enjoyed during the event.

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Julia Eger, ’14

Careers in Africa was cosponsored by: The Office of Career Services, The Committee on African Studies, Harvard Africa Business Investment Club (HABIC), and Harvard African Student Association (HASA).

Apr 02

Arts & Museums Fellow: Katherine Price

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Katherine Price ’14
Arts & Museum Fellows Program
Boston Casting

I first heard Angela Peri, founder and co-owner of Boston Casting, speak at an OCS event my freshman fall. She was so passionate about casting and the entertainment business that the experience stuck with me even three years later. When I saw that OCS had partnered with Boston Casting to offer the opportunity to intern for the company, I knew I had to apply. I’ve continued my internship into the spring semester, so I go to the main office in Allston all day Tuesday and Thursday. The office is always busy, and there is never a dull moment! The most exciting days are when we have multiple casting sessions going on. I’ve had the opportunity to sit in on the sessions themselves, watching auditions for commercials and even feature films. One of the most important and common tasks I do is helping to prep auditions. Scheduling and confirming actors for auditions takes a lot of time – sometimes leading me to make 50 or more calls in a single day! – but it also means that the actual audition day runs super smoothly. Overall, I’ve had an incredibly hands-on experience at Boston Casting, and I’m looking forward to spending my final month as a Harvard undergraduate working with them.

Learn more about the Arts & Museums Fellows Program:

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Read about Boston Casting’s role in casting American Hustle.

Apr 01

Arts & Museums Fellow: Civry Melvin

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My time at Boston Center for the Arts (BCA) has been unspeakably wonderful. The BCA is an organization that was founded in the South End in the 70s, and is housed in the glorious Cyclorama building, which has been around since the late 19th century. The building itself is absolutely stunning, with remnants of its original redbrick castle-like structure, art deco chandeliers that were added when the building was used as a flower market in the 20s, and magnificent skylights that flood the dome-like interior with natural light. The BCA uses the space as one of its main sources of income, renting it out for cultural events such as food and wine tastings and galas. In addition, the BCA also owns an entire block of Tremont Street, which includes numerous theaters, a gallery space called “The Mills,” and an entire building for artist studios. 

In my time interning at the BCA, I have been immersed in all aspects of the organization, helping out with everything from conducting donor research for the development team, to serving as a docent at the Mills Gallery, to creating a detailed report analyzing teen art programs in the Boston-area and proposing ideas for how the BCA can implement its own program. I have had the opportunity to sit in on meetings concerning the BCA’s future as an organization, and from this I have learned how to evaluate programmatic goals and impacts for nonprofits. I have also gotten to help out with and attend numerous events, such as artist and curator talks, workshops, school field trips to the gallery, and events for Boston-area young professionals and college students. The BCA has also hired me as a freelance photographer to document events and create marketing materials. Overall, from this experience I have gained a better understanding of how to manage a nonprofit organization, which I hope to use in my future career!

Civry Melvin ‘14
Arts & Museum Fellows Program
Boston Center for the Arts (BCA)

Learn more about the Arts & Museums Fellows Program:

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Mar 31

Social Impact Expo: Top 10

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Need help navigating the non-profit and mission-driven organizations attending the Social Impact Expo? One of our student bloggers has assembled a list of ten organizations you don’t want to miss! Open to ALL Harvard University students, the Social Impact Expo is co-sponsored by OCS and HGSE. Explore the (growing) list of organizations.

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Art Resource Collaborative for Kids
Boston, Massachusetts
What it is: An organization that collaborates with the Boston Public Schools to provide art classes in support of the schools’ daily efforts of quality visual art programs, with special attention to deep learning and literacy.
Fun fact: Founder Sarah Mraish Demeter, who came to America from Jordan 20 years ago, began this mission after her son started kindergarten at a school that had no art teacher.

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Environment America
Washington, D.C.
What it is: A federation of state-based, citizen-funded environmental advocacy organizations.
Fun fact: Recently, Environment America helped fend off nearly 40 Congressional attacks on the Clean Water Act.

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Axiom Learning
Cambridge, Massachusetts
What it is: An after-school learning center focused on multiple intelligence and achieving kids’ potential for excellence through interdisciplinary 1-on-1 tutoring.
Fun fact: Axiom prides itself on its teaching staff: Fewer than 1 in 200 applicants are hired. All hail from top universities, have great personalities, and are completely dedicated to the success of their students.

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Boston Debate League
Boston, Massachusetts
What it is: A program supports academic debate teams in local high schools and trains BPS teachers to use debate as a regular part of their classroom practice. 
Fun fact: BDL is about to begin massive expansion and hopes to transform the academic structure of the entire district. 

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Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia
Washington, D.C.
What it is: The Public Defender Service provides and promotes legal representation to adults and children facing loss of liberty who could not afford counsel otherwise.
Fun fact: PDS provides representation for up to 60% of people who are financially unable to obtain representation; cases include criminal, juvenile delinquency, parole, drug court, and more.

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Boston Plan for Excellence
Boston, Massachusetts
What it is: A program that wants to improve Boston Public Schools, in hopes that every student can succeed. Its three-part strategy is to prepare and support highly effective teachers, ensure broad student success in partner schools, and create break-the-mold new schools.
Fun fact: BPE reaches 10% of Boston Public Schools students, helping to dramatically accelerate their progress. They are also creating new, replicable models for other school systems to imitate.

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Tenacity, Inc.
Boston, Massachusetts
What it is: A nonprofit that aims to improve the scholastic, character and physical development of urban youth by combining tennis instruction and academic support with a focus on life skills.
Fun fact: 95% of Tenacity alumni graduate from high school, while the estimated Boston high school dropout rate is 30%.

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College Advising Corps-Boston
Headquartered in Chapel Hill, North Carolina (various locations)
What it is: A non-profit that works to increase the rates of college enrollment and completion among low-income, first-generation college and underrepresented high school students.
Fun fact: Founded in 2005, College Advising Corps has served over 189,000 students.

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iMentor
New York, New York
What it is: A program devoted to improving the lives of young people from underserved communities in New York City through innovative, technology-based approaches to youth mentoring and education.
Fun fact: Since 1999, iMentor has connected 11,000 students with mentors through their partnerships with public high schools in New York City and nonprofits nationwide.

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WGBH Educational Foundation
Boston, Massachusetts
What it is: WGBH is the single largest producer of PBS content, and while it’s a local organization, its TV and radio programming reaches an international audience. 
Fun fact: WGBH’s accolades include Emmys, Peabodys, and even two Academy Awards!

Arts & Museums Fellow: Brenna McDuffie

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Photo Credit: Jimmy Ryan

Brenna McDuffie ‘15
Arts & Museum Fellows Program
American Repertory Theater

“Hold on tightly, let go lightly.” These words, uttered by director Diane Paulus, served as a guiding mantra during the four-week rehearsal period of Witness Uganda, a new musical directed by Paulus that premiered at the American Repertory Theater in February. Paulus’ words demonstrate a softer phrasing of another common creative advisory: “You must kill your darlings.” But both maxims articulate the single, most important truism of new play development: The process requires a fine balance between making confident choices and remaining open to cooperative, and often drastic, change.

The pre-tech rehearsals of Witness Uganda at the New 42nd Street Studios in Time Square brought the project’s creative forces and performers together to engage with and develop the material for the first time. At the end of December, nine Harvard College students, including me, joined the ranks of the Witness team, each of us assigned to a creative or managerial department, including directing, producing, marketing, stage management, music, playwrighting and choreography. My work on Witness Uganda was made possible through the OCS Arts & Museum Fellows Program.

“Developing new musicals comes with countless unpredictable challenges,” Shira Milikowsky, A.R.T. associate director reflected more recently. “Unpredictable” is the key word here. For the four weeks of rehearsals in New York, I was the designated playwright intern, which allowed me to engage closely with the ever-changing script and with writer/lead actor Griffin Matthews. I quickly learned that in the development of a new work, the playwright’s job extends through rehearsals and previews, right up until the opening night.

During the period in which the script remains “unfrozen” and malleable, the playwright is in constant communication with the directing and dramaturgy teams, whose notes and script analyses contribute to daily changes in the musical’s book. Six days a week, all hours of the day, Matthews, the stage management team and I were making line changes, cuts and printing new pages to be distributed to the cast. Often, the following day would bring even newer versions of the same pages and would end with the reinsertion of a line that had been cut the day before. New script development felt like a fast-paced dance whose choreography was always subject to change, even before you had a chance to memorize the original steps. Each day, you remind yourself of the mantra. “Let go lightly, let go lightly.”

Read More

Mar 26



Katrina Deutsch, Peace Corps recruiter for the Metro Boston area with professional experience in international education and international volunteer management and support, sat down to answer five key questions about working in international development. This post originally appeared in the Harvard Student / Alumni Advice Forum on LinkedIn

Q: What advice do you have for Harvard seniors looking to break into your field? 

If you want to get a job in international development overseas, consider finding fellowships or other programs to start. Programs such as the Peace Corps, WorldTeach, Fulbright, or university sponsored fellowships offer an opportunity to gain grassroots international experience without having years of professional experience. Another way to get started is being willing to move overseas for an internship or unpaid volunteer-work position with an organization in order to gain experience for your resume to get a good paying job overseas. In addition, organizations such as USAID and the UN have junior officer positions for those with less work experience, and applications are usually open annually.

Q: How has your concentration come into play (…or not come into play) in your work? 

My concentration from my undergraduate career no longer plays a role in my work. I majored in English and communication studies in college, hoping to go into a career in publishing, and am now a recruiter for the Peace Corps. My experiences overseas as a Peace Corps volunteer (something I did right after college) led me to pursue a master’s degree in international education policy, which is what my career has focused on. It is important to have a college degree, but it is definitely not a defining factor in a career once you have a couple of years work experience. I always use my brother as an example: he has a degree in sports management, but has worked in advertising and now data analytics, and is pursuing his MBA. 

Q: How do students find out about jobs/internships in your field? 

The Office of Career Services is a great place to start. There are also many listservs that send weekly job openings, including BNID (the Boston Network for International Development), Devex, DevNetJobs, the Foreign Policy Association, and even LinkedIn! The more specialized and up to date your LinkedIn profile is, the more relevant the job openings they email you will be. 

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Mar 25

“The path that you really want is not always the one that seems the most direct. If you take the most direct path, you might end up losing your vision.” — Griffin Matthews, Witness Uganda author, writer, director, actor, and philanthropist. Read the full story.

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When Griffin Matthews volunteered in Uganda the summer of 2005, he never expected that the trip would result in a theater production that raises awareness about the lack of educational opportunities for children. Meet “Witness Uganda,” the production that first sprung from Griffin’s unscripted rants on the difficulty of helping people. Created by Griffin and his friend Matt Gould, Witness Uganda just recently ended its run at the American Repertory Theater.

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Photo Credit: @americanrep #WitnessUgandaART 

“Rather than tell everyone how rewarding it was to go to Uganda, our project aims to tell them how challenging it was,” Griffin said. Knowing this angle was unconventional and potentially unsightly to some audiences, they were still willing to take the risk. 

Although their path to success seems like a Cinderella story, the road was not easy. “Many times along the way we were told no, no, no, we’re not interested,” Griffin said. They met with Broadway directors who liked the idea but hated the execution. “Some people wanted us to change the title. Of course we weren’t going to change the title! Not only did we hear a lot of no’s, we said a lot of no’s. We didn’t want to lose the voice of our project.”

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Griffin Matthews and the students in A.R.T.’s Witness UgandaPhoto Credit: GretjenHelenePhotography.com

One of the most important parts about social activism, they explained, is the struggle to stay loyal to their mission. They were ready to take the long road. “We realized we weren’t going to get a producer for our show out of thin air. But our main responsibility is to tell the story as clearly, as well, and with as much integrity as possible,” Matt added. “If people want to see it, someone’s going to get behind it.” 

“What we’re coming to realize is that the path that you really want is not always the one that seems the most direct,” Griffin said. “If you take the most direct path, you might end up losing your vision.” To be artists but also activists, they had the responsibility of giving a voice to the people who don’t have one.

imageMatthew Griffin and the cast of A.R.T.’s Witness Uganda. Photo Credit: GretjenHelenePhotography.com

Where some people might find that experiencing art is an escape from reality, these activists stressed the danger of that idea. “Every day, all we do is escape. All we do is try to avoid the real things that bother us,” Griffin said. “When people come into this theater, I hope that they are not escaping. Art is a way into the truth, not an escape from the truth.”

“People are hungry for something that lets them feel human. If we don’t talk about the things that bother us, there should be a forum for it,” Matt said, “but the ultimate mission is to bring people to the truth so that we can make the world a better place, incrementally, one little step at a time.”

Witness Uganda is a “project” for a reason: there is no 5-10 year plan. It’s not about knowing what’s next, but knowing about what works at the moment. Ultimately, though, Griffin and Matt hope that their work incites noticeable political and social change. “We hope that this project will eventually cease to exist,” Griffin said, “either because the government gets free education together, or because the older kids start helping younger ones, perpetuating a positive cycle.”

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Julia Eger, ’14

Photos used with permission from American Repertory Theater.

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Intrapreneurship is the act of behaving like an entrepreneur while working for a large organization. OCS recently held a workshop on intrapreneurship featuring Ben Wiegand, PhD ’92, Vice President of Research & Development at Johnson & Johnson. In addition to elaborating on his work, Ben gave the audience advice on how to become an intrapreneur and what firms look for in potential employees.

From wanting to teach…to driving innovation: 

After finishing his PhD at Harvard in 1992, Ben’s love of teaching propelled him to do postdoc studies conducting chemistry research. Thereafter, he spent some time working at Procter & Gamble, but later moved to Johnson & Johnson, where he has been for the past 15 years. In addition to a great working environment, Ben cited the fact that “innovation is tied to values” as one of the reasons why he has remained there for so long.

Due to the changing dynamics of the market, 80% of activities at J&J are overseas. As a result, Ben has experienced a lot of mobility in his career. The challenges facing organizations? Inventions that used to be special are now generic—hence there is a need to constantly innovate.

Innovation is about combining two known pictures in a new, unique way:

Intrapreneurship often connects people with different ideas and resources to one another. An entrepreneur might have a brilliant idea, but lack the money and research to implement the idea; a large organization might possess the latter two and lack the former. For example, an entrepreneur came up with the idea of developing a drug to treat diabetes, however, he lacked the customer base to whom he could sell the product. At the same time, J&J had conducted research and were in the process of developing a treatment for diabetes as well. Intrapreneurship was able to connect the two, resulting in a drug that is now marketed through J&J.

Due to nature of the world today, the smartest person is no longer able to keep that position for a long time; people have to connect with others to share ideas. The work done at Johnson & Johnson is no longer limited to the walls of the company, rather, J&J works with IBM, several venture capital firms, and entrepreneurs—as well as academics—to remain abreast of innovation. Such collaborations demonstrate the potential of intrapreneurship to grow rapidly in the near future.

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Mar 24

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OCS recently held a workshop on careers in international development focused on education. Panelists talked about their initial contact with international education and elaborated on the missions of their organizations.

The road to international education

The path taken to a career in international education varied from panelist to panelist. For Katrina Deutsch, current recruiter for the Peace Corps in Boston, an interest in education started immediately after graduating from college. In the summer following her senior year, she decided to join the Peace Corps and was assigned to teach English in Nicaragua. From there, she went on to become a curriculum developer for WorldTeach and later returned to the Peace Corps.

As for Josh Nathan of Bridge International Academies, his work with Teach For America took him to Cameroon after college where he taught English to elementary school children. Through Bridge, he is currently working on building 250 private schools in Kenya. With organizations such as Cultural Agents Initiative, World Teach, Peace Corps—all geared toward education—one has to wonder, what is the mission of each organization?

Mission-driven organizations

Gustavo Payan, project director at the Education Development Center, explained how his organization is focused on improving the quality of education. “The main domain is education. It’s great being able to work with local governments and schools. We specialize in teacher training, curriculum development  and work with municipalities and other forms of government,” he said. Similarly, Josh’s organization is developing the level of education that lower income children in Kenya receive by focusing on maximizing scores on standardized tests, as this is the benchmark that students in Kenya need to achieve in order progress onto higher education. With funds from the federal government, the Peace Corps’ mission is centered on “not going to milk 100 cows and leave, but rather, teaching other people how to milk the cow as well,” said Katrina.

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Mar 20

“Take responsibility for your actions, both good and bad. Passing mistakes downstream may help you avoid criticism at the time, but those below you will take note, and in due time, those above you will notice the trend as well.” — Colin Smith ‘15, Argopoint LLC. Read the full story.

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I was unsure if I was going to make it during my first day on the job. The temperature read 93 degrees, and my work for the day squared me off against what would come to be my biggest opponents of the summer—rocks and roots. It was the summer after my freshman year, and I had decided against the traditional summer internship and instead opted to spend one last summer outdoors working for a landscaping company.  The work was physically demanding—at the small company I found myself at the bottom of the totem pole and subsequently doing the dirty work in an industry that requires plenty of it.

Digging holes, as was primarily my function, required little skill and lots of hard work. On that first day I couldn’t believe what I had gotten myself into, but as the summer progressed, I learned that I had given myself the most rewarding summer of my life. The skills I learned during that summer went far beyond tree placement and digging technique. First and foremost, I learned the value of hard work and the places it can get you.

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With my superiors taking notice of the hard work I put in day-in and day-out, I was given more and more responsibility. Taking on increasingly more difficult tasks, I found my “summer job” turning into a serious job that I took immense pride in. While many of my peers were spending time learning about the financial markets in New York in office buildings, I was spending time learning about the values of hard work and the skills necessary to move up and add value to a business. Hard work aside, there are a couple of major skills I learned, some the hard way, to assure success in whatever endeavor you take on:

While some responsibility was given, some had to be taken. Show initiative, and those above you will certainly take notice. By showing a genuine interest in the work you are doing, coupled with a desire to learn more, you will garner more responsibility and respect from those around you. The key word here is genuine, as meager attempts to assert yourself will be brushed aside in almost every industry, especially those with extreme competition.

Take responsibility for your actions, both good and bad. In garnering more and more responsibility quickly, I had a couple instances where I made mistakes and owning up to them only helped me gain more respect from my superiors. Passing mistakes downstream may help you avoid criticism at the time, but those below you will take note, and in due time, those above you will notice the trend as well.

Finally, I think what helped me most was my desire to succeed and my hunger to learn more and move up. While this may seem obvious for success, navigating any job takes an intense desire to succeed and do whatever it takes. That summer in landscaping, I learned all these things to my surprise. I thought I would have one last hurrah before joining the corporate world, but the skills I learned landscaping have transferred over to various other positions, including my most recent one at a management consulting firm in Boston, Argopoint LLC. Here, I have transposed the above skills I learned doing landscaping, which has  helped me immensely in navigating a very different type of role. The fast paced and intellectually demanding environment of my current position has had parallels with that summer that I never could have imagined before taking on an office job. 

So to those of you on the fence about what to do this summer and have the opportunity to do a “summer job” take it—and take it seriously.  Opportunities for learning will be plentiful, and will help you in every subsequent role you take on.

—Colin Smith ‘15

Mar 18

“Entrepreneurship is taking significant risk to see something exist in the world. Artists do this every day. It’s a mindset.” — Jack Dorsey, CEO of Square. Read the full story.