Seneca Bardi ’26
When Andrea Kinney urged Holy Cross to allow her to study abroad for the D.C. semester, despite her being a D1 field hockey player, she did not know that her internship would lead to her first post-graduate job. She now works for the Senate Foreign Relations Minority Committee on Capitol Hill. This position came as a result of the connections she had made, an emphasis that each of the four female panelists at the Center for Career Development’s first Public Policy Virtual Alumni Panel last Thursday reiterated when describing the importance of networking. Whether it occurs with lower-level workers or the CEO of a company, knowing people makes a difference in getting jobs. This applies especially since a large portion of public policy positions are not posted. “Getting an interview depends on who you know,” Grace Campion, who works for the DC X gfg f bb as Department of Housing and Community Development, said while identifying her mentor as the one who connected her to her first job. Kinney recommends asking each interviewer to connect you to someone in their network, growing yours even if you do not get the job, or just asking people out for a cup of coffee.
Campion recently started the newest chapter in her career, emphasizing that it is okay if you do not know exactly what you want to do when leaving college. Even in this stage of her life, her job continues to change. For students who are starting out, Kinney says not to get discouraged by this uncertainty, that getting your foot in the door is the first step. Bridget Cullen’s first job was an unpaid internship on Capitol Hill, similar to Kinney’s internship during the D.C. semester. Now, Cullen works for Daly Consulting Firm. She says that you have to “level-set everything that you do.” Making sure not to put yourself above any position is important while getting started. The beginning of your career identifies what kind of worker you are, and in terms of making connections, being willing to do the tasks no one else wants to, will make you stand out.
Kinney also thinks that as more students get involved, they should take classes that provide information in learning about general principles. She says Professor Kocs, who specializes in international relations, provided “hands-down the best classes.” This notion was emphasized by a number of other panelists. One of whom, Meredith Lawler, who works for the Maryland Department of Health, said it “greatly prepared her for the types of writing she does in her current position. Specifically, writing short, concise memos.” Moving outside of Holy Cross, like doing the D.C. semester that Kinney did, provides “pretty invaluable connections,” says Cullen. The panelists all agreed that any classes that teach applicable writing skills will be the most useful. And, as alumni, they all reiterated the benefits of a liberal arts education in teaching you how to learn.
“Every day is different” in public policy positions, Lawler says. Depending on whether or not Congress is in session, their jobs can look wildly different. Particularly for Kinney, who works on Capitol Hill, and says that she can be in a briefing for four hours on national security issues. However, this unpredictable schedule was seen as exciting by the panelists, one of the reasons they chose their fields. Working for the government is not the only way to get involved, says Cullen, who works as the middleman between the public and private sectors at the small lobbying firm.
To learn more about available fields, Holy Cross’ Center For Career Development offers a number of online panels and career advising, as well as the Holy Cross Network, where students can connect to alumni who could become future employers. All of their services can be found online, on their website, or on the second floor of Hogan Campus Center in room 203.
Featured networking image courtesy of flaticon