Career Center Resources

Andy Mendez, MBA/SID'23

Andy Mendez, MBA/SID’23

On the first floor of the Heller School building, you’ll find a couple of things. This includes the Heller Admissions Office, the Dean’s Office, and the Career Development Center. The Career Center can be an excellent resource in your graduate journey – if you know what resources exist and how to use them. Here is my advice for how to make the most of resources at the Career Center.

Schedule Mock Interviews

At this point in the semester, my cohort members and I are fully in the job and fellowship search process. Many of my classmates are seeking consulting roles and these kinds of jobs have a very particular interview format, which usually involves completing and presenting a mock case. If you’ve never had this kind of interview before, it can be very intimidating and confusing. Scheduling a mock interview with the Career Center is a great way to practice and get comfortable with this format before you do the real thing. I’m currently in the running for the Presidential Management Fellows program and the interview for this focuses heavily on behavioral and situational interviewing. Having a mock interview with career staff helped me practice the STAR method response format. I generally struggle with deciding which experience is most compelling for which question. Career Center staff gave me solid feedback that helped me determine which of my anecdotes were best suited to answer the questions I’d likely be asked. 

Attend Informational Sessions

The Career Center offers several information sessions a month, all with different focuses. The three types of sessions I’ve found most helpful are: talks with Heller alumni, overviews of fellowship programs, and webinars with employers or professionals in the sector I’m interested in. By attending sessions with Heller alumni, I’ve learned a lot about what resources exist on campus for students and how best to maximize my time as a student. Heller alumni also talk about how they positioned themselves for their next opportunity post-graduation. As a graduate student, there are a ton of fellowships that you may qualify for and that provide funding for language study, research, and professional development both in the US and abroad. Attending these situations is a great way to get a sense of which opportunities you may qualify for and to learn how to draft a competitive application. Lastly, employer sessions are a great way to network with professionals in your field of interest and learn about potential internship or full-time roles they might be recruiting for. 

Read the Newsletter

The Career Development Center sends out a weekly email newsletter. This newsletter shares upcoming networking events as well as active job postings. Even if you are not actively job or internship searching, it’s a good idea to briefly glance at the opportunities listed. I like to scan the qualifications sector for postings that look relevant. This gives me a sense of what employers are looking for and has helped me tailor my jobs and extracurriculars to better develop these competencies. The newsletter includes both events happening at Heller and in Greater Boston. The Heller events are normally doing the lunch hour and over Zoom, which is very accessible. The events in Boston are usually in the evenings when most people don’t have classes. Attending these events is a great way to practice your networking skills and interact with your cohort outside of a classroom setting. 

Evaluate Job Offers

Salary negotiation can feel scary even for students with a lot of full-time job experience. This can be even tougher if you are evaluating multiple job offers at once. Sitting down with a Career Advisor can help you think through the best ways to position yourself in the negotiation process and can also help you identify other types of benefits you may be able to negotiate either instead of, or in addition to, salary. 

Overall, the Career Center is not a resource you want to put on the shelf until a few panicked weeks before graduation. The resources at the Career Development Center are designed to support students throughout all stages of their graduate school career.

How to Choose a PhD Program

With a little over a month to go before the PhD application deadline (get your apps in before December 15th, folks!), some students are still finalizing which programs they want to apply to. I know I’ve written many blog posts about how to choose a graduate program, but to be honest, applying to a PhD program is unique in some ways. With that in mind, I thought I’d focus on a few things that you should be thinking about as you select which PhD programs to apply to, and ultimately, how to choose which graduate program to ultimately attend.

    1. How you align with faculty.  It’s certainly not uncommon to have research interests that don’t align perfectly with the work actively being done at Heller: if everyone was looking at how the same issue affects the same population using the same methodology, we’d all be doing the same research. It’s not uncommon for our students to have interests that don’t neatly fit into one of our concentrations (for example, students interested in Education Policy bridge both Children, Youth, and Families and Economic and Racial Equity), but still find plenty of faculty members to support their research interests. As part of your research into PhD programs, I would recommend browsing faculty in your program of interest and asking yourself, “Who would I want as my advisor? Who would I want to serve on my dissertation committee?” This, by the way, can be broader than just your specific issue: faculty who have worked with the population that you’re interested, or are using similar research methods, might still be a good fit for you, even if they’re investigating how a different policy problem affects that population. You can find PhD faculty as well as their areas of interest here.
    2. What network you want to build. As you move through the program, you’ll be building a professional network, not just with Heller faculty, but also with your cohort and within your concentration. This is a network that can assist you not only while you’re in the program, but after you leave the program as well. So, when trying to choose a program, I would ask yourself what kinds of people that you want to be helping you through this journey and beyond. Are students doing research in areas you’re interested? Are they working, or have they worked, at places that you’d be interested in working at after graduation? Does the community seem collaborative and supportive?
    3. The funding package. Make sure you read the fine print: At Heller, All full-time PhD students receive a funding package that includes all tuition and fees, the individual health insurance premium, and an annual stipend of $21,000 for the first four years of the program. One thing I would note, however, is that unlike many PhD programs, this funding package and stipend is not dependent on working as a teaching assistant or research assistant. Many of our PhD students, however, are interested in working as a research or teaching assistant (and I would say that most PhD students do work in one of those roles at some point during their program), but in those cases, students are paid directly, just like with any other job. Many other graduate programs may either a) not cover fees, which can be in the thousands of dollars,  b) require you to work for a certain number of hours, which can inhibit your ability to work on other projects or manage your schoolwork, c) aren’t renewable/only for a year/is contingent on benchmarks that are unreasonable.

It’s easy to get caught up in a school’s prestigious name, a high ranking, or a too-good-to-be-true scholarship package. But a PhD program is a big commitment: you’ll likely be spending more time in your PhD program than you did in your undergraduate degree, so you want to make sure that it’s the right fit for you. Looking at these three things is a good start when it comes time to make this decision!

 

Social Entrepreneurship at Heller

Andy Mendez, MBA/SID'23

Andy Mendez, MBA/SID’23

Even if you are not in the Social Impact MBA program, Heller students can benefit from participation in social entrepreneurship initiatives both at the Heller School and the wider Brandeis community. Social entrepreneurship events are a great form of experiential learning. They offer the chance to network outside of your cohort and provide a real-world forum for applying course concepts. I’d like to highlight the social entrepreneurship opportunities I’ve enjoyed the most. 

The Heller Social Impact Startup Challenge

This is an annual event in the fall semester planned almost entirely by current students. This three-day event brings together Heller students from all programs to form teams, develop their ideas with the help of mentors, and present their business concepts before a panel of judges – many of whom are Boston-area entrepreneurs. I joined this competition in my first semester, which allowed me to apply the concepts I was learning from Financial Accounting, as well as Leadership & Organizational Development. I was still very new to the Heller community, so this event also gave me the chance to meet new people and form connections. I originally came to Heller just for the MA in Sustainable International Development program but was encouraged by alumni to add the MBA. After completing the Startup Challenge, I knew I had made the right decision. 

SPARK

The SPARK program is run by Brandeis Innovation. In the fall, SPARK accepts applications for its pitch competition, known as SPARKTank. First prize and People’s Choice Award winners in the Heller Startup Challenge receive streamlined entrance into the competition. The SPARK competition differs from the Heller Startup Challenge in that it is open to Brandeis faculty, staff, and students. Judges have innovation as a top criteria. The pitch time is much shorter than the Heller Startup Challenge, so my team really had to challenge ourselves to be focused, specific, and deliberate about how we communicated our idea. Winning teams from SPARK automatically join the SPARK startup incubator. The incubator happens over spring semester. Teams meet weekly for workshops that help them hone in on topics like competitive advantage, customer discovery, and revenue generation. My favorite thing about SPARK was the cohort aspect. Our cohort included teams from the International Business School, a professor in the Asian Studies Department, as well as first and second year Heller MBA students. I learned so much from being able to hear what other teams were working on and what challenges they were working through.

Courses in Social Entrepreneurship

In addition to events, Heller students can also engage in social entrepreneurship through coursework. Students have the option of two courses – Global Social Entrepreneurship and Social Entrepreneurship & Innovation – both taught by the MBA Program Director, Carole Carlson. Professor Carlson has recently authored an entire textbook with case studies on mission-driven ventures. In the spring semester, she teaches the half-semester course on Global Social Entrepreneurship, which highlights examples of social impact businesses around the globe. I really appreciated how the class encouraged us to be skeptical and question if everything that is labeled a social venture is in fact truly mission-driven. The course also emphasizes that just because a social impact is taking place, mission-driven ventures still must have robust revenue models and solid business plans to be viable. In this class, I was introduced to essential business tools for lean startups, including the Business Model Canvas and the theory of change. In this course, students actually form teams, develop a business idea, and present on their business idea as their final project. My team presented on the idea of an eco-grocery store in Bhutan that would reduce waste and create jobs for urban youth. The fall semester course, Social Entrepreneurship & Innovation, dives even deeper into these concepts and presents students with more domestic case studies. Other topics covered include competitive advantage, scaling, and financing social ventures. 

If you are even the slightest bit curious or interested in entrepreneurship, I encourage you to dip your toes in and take advantage of these opportunities!

Event Recap: Punishment Culture and the Persistence of Mass Incarceration in Massachusetts

Ronunique Clark, MPP'23 headshot

Ronunique Clark, MPP’23

In my concentration course this semester, our professor asked if we could attend a bonus lecture as part of our regularly scheduled class. I decided to attend the Joshua A. Guberman Lecture: Punishment, Culture, and the Persistence of Mass Incarceration in Massachusetts, presented by Elizabeth Matos.  Brandeis University created the Joshua A. Guberman lecture to honor Guberman, who had passionate concern for individual well being and social justice. I chose to attend this lecture because I have had an interest all my life in criminal justice, mass incarceration, the school to prison pipeline, anything that involved the justice system in America. I felt that the lecture would be a good place for me to start getting my brain going about my presentation in my class and to learn more about what mass incarceration looks like in Massachusetts.

Elizabeth Matos was a an amazing speaker and lecturer, linking her life story to her current work in a phenomenal way. She walked us through the origins of mass incarceration: what triggered this mass wave of incarceration of Black and Brown people in America and connecting the historical origins to what we are seeing in mass incarceration trends today, especially in Massachusetts. America has the highest incarceration rate in the world, and Black and Brown individuals  are 4 times more likely to be incarcerated versus their white peers. Even though Massachusetts is on the lower end of incarceration rate, it does not mitigate the fact that they still dedicate most of the budget to spending on prisons.  According to the Department of Corrections 2020 annual report, the state spends, on average, $61,241 per prisoner at its largest prison,  MCI-Norfolk, and $111,674 per prisoner at its only exclusively maximum-security prison, Souza Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley. . Now imagine if we dedicated this money to community resources and schools in low and middle income communities. What would Massachusetts look like?

I had two major takeaways from sitting in on this lecture. The first takeaway is that Massachusetts is the only state in the country that will utilize correctional centers as places to treat people who have mental health and substance abuse issues. Individuals who struggle with mental health crises or substance abuse issues are not offered residential treatment, instead, they are sent to solitary confinement.  Elizabeth highlighted the story of Ayesha Johnson, a 35 year Black women who died in the custody of Boston Suffolk Prison, after only being there for a few hours. Even though the state ended the practice of incarcerating women for civil commitments in 2016, Johnson was civilly committed under ‘Section 35’ in Massachusetts, which is meant for people who need mental support. She did not need to be locked up because she did not commit a crime, she needed extensive treatment and support. But instead she ended up becoming another statistic of our harsh criminal justice system. Prisons are not places of treatment, they are a place of discipline and often torture. It made me question where did we go wrong if we deem that having a mental health issue or substance abuse problem is a crime? Individuals who struggle with these issues are often criminalized more often, especially if they are Black and Brown: just another tactic in this new system we know as the New Jim Crow.

My second takeaway from this lecture is what we dedicate to the spending budget for prisons. I mentioned that the state of Massachusetts spends $61,241  per prisoner at is largest prison. Even though efforts for rehabilitation and treatment have definitely grown over the last decade or so, we are still far removed from what biggest goal of prisons should be: rehabilitation.  When an individual is incarcerated, they give up everything they have and now they no longer own a car, or have a job, they do not see their families, they are now property of the state. Yet when the state no longer has them as property, they are released from prison with nothing to fall back on at all. How is someone supposed to become a law abiding citizen when they have to start from the bottom. I wondered,  ‘How could we better support the assimilation in society after an individual is released from prison? How could we prepare an individual for this while they are awaiting release? How could we make sure they are rehabilitated and they do not reoffend?’ I asked these questions to Elizabeth at the end of her lecture, and she reassured me that this element of mass incarceration has grown better over time. The re-entry space has more resources then they ever had, because what people experience in prisons affect their reentry. Now, we have peer coaches and peer actor individuals who were also formerly incarcerated, supporting the release of individuals back into society. Yet in order to keep pushing for a more effective re-entry space, we must have all hands on deck from all aspect of our government.

I am really happy that I decided to attend this lecture. I did leave the lecture with more questions and more worries, however, I did feel I learned something new about a state I have lived in for the last five years of my life. I got to understand how this state handles mass incarceration and what efforts are being pushed, discussed, and implemented in hopes of ending the spread of mass incarceration and to really encourage a more robust restorative justice practicing society.  Thank you Heller for hosting this lecture, and thank you Elizabeth for providing the knowledge on this topic and helping us as students, faculty, and peers in continuing our fight for justice in the area of mass incarceration!

The Summer Internship Part One

Brielle Ruscitti, MS GHPM/MA SID'24 Headshot

Brielle Ruscitti, MS GHPM/MA SID’24

We are about halfway through the semester and while spooky season is fun, the spookiest part is starting my search for a summer internship. As a student in the dual degree (Sustainable International Development and Global Health Policy and Management), students must complete a summer practicum, which essentially is an internship. Students in this program are responsible for findings their own summer employment. In this and future posts, I will take you through how I am beginning my search and how the application process goes throughout the semester. I hope that for future readers this makes the process easier to understand and maybe gives you a place to start your own plan and internship search.

Step One: Look into the resources available and get familiar with them. Heller has an incredible resource in its staff which help students not only search for their practicum but also help develop your application materials such as your resume and cover letter.  I been using resources such as Handshake and LinkedIn which can help you begin to get an idea of types of internships, deadlines, and different companies and organizations to work with.

Step Two: Gather and update your application materials. I started this week by dusting my cover letter and updating it to use for an internship application and made sure my resume was up to date. This makes the application process much easier as your materials are ready to go, and I can easily add position specific information to my cover letter and resume to make sure my application is submitted on time. I also made sure to reach out to previous or current professors to see if they can write letters of recommendation. This is especially important because you want to make sure they have ample time for what they need to write.

Step Three: Begin the search. This is the most daunting part: there are so many to look through on a number of different websites and platforms, the whole thing becomes overwhelming almost instantly. So far I’m using a couple different strategies to make the searching less overwhelming. I started by checking both Handshake and LinkedIn for a set amount of time and used a specific set of filters or search terms to find positions that I would be interested in. I make sure to save the positions I am interested in so I can set time aside later to apply. I have also signed up for some newsletters, both from Heller and other organizations, that post internship openings. I read those carefully and look into the organization hiring to ensure I want to apply. This process has just started and I am sure I will have feedback for myself.

My search and applications have just begun, so stay tuned to read as my process continues.

MBA Extracurriculars: The Board Fellows Program

Andy Mendez, MBA/SID'23

Andy Mendez, MBA/SID’23

As of right now, less than two months remain in my tenure as a Heller MBA Board Fellow and the 2023 cohort is actively being recruited from among the ranks of first-year MBAs. In the Board Fellow program, MBA students are matched with nonprofit organizations and sit on their Board of Directors as a non-voting member for 12 months. I had the great fortune of getting matched with Bikes Not Bombs, a youth development organization that uses the bicycle as a vehicle for social change. I entered this program to get a better understanding of nonprofit governance, to connect with a local organization that does programming in my professional area of interest, to expand my professional network, and to increase my leadership skills. Here are my tips for maximizing this opportunity!

Join a Committee

Both corporate and nonprofit boards organize themselves into relevant subcommittees. Common ones include Finance, Executive, Governance, and Fundraising. At Bikes Not Bombs, I knew early on that I wanted to join the Governance committee. This committee has been focused on board member recruitment, engagement, and succession planning. Prior to coming to Brandeis, I had been involved in the recruitment, onboarding, support, and offboarding of AmeriCorps volunteers and was curious what recruitment looked like for a nonprofit board. Joining a subcommittee helped me get a firsthand insight into this process, while also allowing me to connect with a smaller subgroup of board members who I met with on a monthly basis (as opposed to the other board members, which I saw at our bi-monthly full board meetings). 

Volunteer or Help Plan Events 

Many nonprofits have annual flagship events that they are known for. These events are usually focused on fundraising and sharing the progress the organization has made that year. Bikes Not Bombs hosts two big fundraisers – the Building Momentum Breakfast and the Bike-A-Thon. For this year’s Bike-A-Thon, I volunteered to help run registration for teams biking in the event. Volunteering was a great way for me to meet key staff in the organization and hear from veteran participants their reflections on what this event means for them and the surrounding Jamaica Plain community. 

Have One-on-Ones with Board Members

Each person on the board (unless they are retired) is an active professional. At least 4 people on Bikes Not Bombs board were alumni of Heller’s MBA program! Meeting one-on-one for a virtual coffee chat was a great way to get to know them better, learn more about their career trajectory, and hear about what motivated them to get involved on the board. One of my favorite one-on-ones was when I had the opportunity to talk to Bikes Not Bomb’s capacity building consultant. From this conversation, I learned a lot about what it takes to improve board governance. 

As you can see, there are many ways to get involved beyond just attending board meetings. Many of my peers in the Board Fellows program have also taken on special projects related to committee work and many of them have found internships through their connections on the board. Nonprofit boards really appreciate the perspective of younger professionals and many boards are looking to fill certain skill gaps which Heller MBA students come equipped with. I’ve really enjoyed my Board Fellow experience thus far and I look forward to finishing strong!

Meet My Cohort: Brian Stanley

Ronunique Clark, MPP'23 headshot

Ronunique Clark, MPP’23

Are you guys still with me in this mini blog series of Meet My Cohort? I hope you are! Huge thank you to Hannah Wilcove for stepping into the admissions blog room. Next up in this series is truly one of my favorite cohort mates in this program. Super honored to be able to sit down and chat with Brian Stanley. Brian is 25 years old, from Clifton Park, New York, and in 2019 he graduated from Boston University (hey fellow Terrier) with a bachelors in Political Science and minor in Sociology. He is currently a 2nd year Master of Public Policy candidate concentrating in Environmental Justice.

 What did you do before coming to Heller?

Brian Stanley, MPP’23

Before Heller I was working at the AIDS Action Committee, which was a branch of Fenway Health. I was working as a high-need, low-income HIV case manager for Essex County, basically everything above Boston. I had a case load of about 50 people and I was the only arm of Fenway there, so I was living in Salem for two years: I started this job in 2019 and left in 2021 before starting this program. In addition to this, I was also working in food service at the time, largely because being a case manager doing social service work with a bachelors degree isn’t the greatest pay, and living in Salem, you wouldn’t be able to live off just that. Aside from the difficulty in having to work two jobs, they were both fulfilling opportunities  and both of these experiences informed my route today. It was different crowds of people administratively, professionally, and socially.

Why did you choose Heller?

I applied to a lot of programs and this was one of the few policy programs I applied to.  I felt between the faculty and Heller’s messaging that even if the experience was not going to be what I expected it to be, that there  would be people here with the same interests in environmental, social justice and equity.  Prioritizing these interests in different ways, so even if the program wasn’t what I expected it to be I knew the connections and network I would build will still be a solid motivation to continue on in the program. Like the other programs I was applying for I did not think their messaging was on point enough, their diversity statements and program directors did not have that same inclusive language, and I mean it could all be a front, but I think people who would be attractive to these certain elements in a program are the people I would vibe with. I also looked at Heller’s institutes which demonstrated their values and that someone here wasn’t just doing the talk but also walking the walk.  I felt like that was another green flag, once again even if the program wasn’t what I expected, I knew there were faculty, staff, and students doing the work is what I can vibe with.

What is your favorite class at Heller? 

I hate to be a repeat to Hannah, but my favorite class was Policy Approaches to Gender Based Violence taught by Kaitie Chakoian. The course was really phenomenal: it broke down real complex human concepts around violence,  recovery, and healing in ways that were both accessible and still human. I feel some of the other courses here have difficulty translating what it means to be worthy of justice, integrity, and human value to something we can understand. Then we end up in language of federalism when we could be in the language of human terms, but Kaitie really broke down concepts well, she was engaging, and she provide extensive feedback on assignments, which I think highlighted her excellence and commitment to excellence. Super phenomenal and probably my favorite.

What was your most challenging class at Heller?

Thinking about this I break into two categories. I think for me, first, it would be Practicing Social Justice Philanthropy: Purpose, Practice, and Problems taught by Celeste Reid Lee and Sheryl Seller class directly out of the Sillerman Center for the Advancement of Philanthropy. It was intellectually challenging because I did not know anything from this field: I did not understand how philanthropy can relate to social justice, or even if philanthropy could relate to social justice. I thought the speakers were phenomenal but I did find the course to be challenging because of the materials. However, the instructors from the Sillerman Center were amazing in the way they coordinated the course, feedback on material, and really broke down a lot of the concepts. For me, another layer of challenging is a course I am taking right now, which is Environmental and Climate Justice taught by Prakash Kashwan. It is actually a undergraduate class I am taking. The reason why this class is challenging is because its a undergraduate course, and the instructor is working to engage meaningfully with everyone, who are all from different academic levels, and the assignment structures are very different. It’s a lot of reading response, with week to week assignments, which in some ways it becomes  regurgitating information instead of synthesizing it so its a completely different flow. He is integrating some elements of graduate courses such as take home exam options to synthesize material and the way he teaches information is wonderful and his linkages of decolonization, capitalism, and climate change is astounding. He himself is great but the structure of the course is what I find challenging.

What are your plans after Heller? 

I think I’m going to work on deciding between a career in research versus a career in something on the ground. I do not have anything concrete yet I have been applying though! These are all opportunities to say the least, eventually I may want to pursue a PhD,  but I have to really nail down what is worth doing with the limit time that I do have. So for me that is trying to figure out where do my moral and ethics align, because I know ultimately they align with community, justice, and equity, but I have to figure out my role in that conversation. It reminds me of the quote  from Audre Lorde, “the masters tools will never dismantles the master’s house” and so like how do you embody that with a masters degree in public policy, right? I have no idea, but I am really excited to find out what that looks like and surrounding myself with people who are dealing with these questions.

Any advice you would like to give prospective students? 

It is very critical to give yourself to give yourself as many options as you can because things that you decide are worth doing are worth doing and no matter what decision you’re making, you will think something else may be worth it differently. I think committing yourself to principle of what you want  to do and what you want to be are fundamental to succeeding anywhere. So giving yourself the most options, applying to every program, speaking to faculty, and dealing with research is what I would say is the best choice. The worst thing you could do is do one thing and feel trapped. That’s how you lose drive in a program or drive in future decision. Give yourself space to fail, there is literally no one at this school or in this program that has been committed to something 100% percent and all the time. When it comes down to it, you need to be more committed to what those principles are, even if its just making more money in the future, you need to decide if its worth it. That’s my two cents.

Thank you Brian, for stepping into the admission blog room, it is always a pleasure to have a conversation with you! What a fulfilling way to now lead us into a brief intermission of my mini blog series “Meet My Cohort”, but don’t worry I will be back with some more of my classmates and their stories.

Letter to My Future Self: Calah McQuarters

Calah McQuarters, MBA'23 headshot

Calah McQuarters, MBA’23

Dear Future Calah,

Stop, breathe in, and take a moment to fully live in this amazing moment. You did it! You endured, persevered, conquered, learned, fell down and got back up. Now you’re at the finish line a little wiser, a lot stronger, and at least half ready for whatever this new season will bring. I am very proud of you. 

You made it graduation, so you passed all your classes (hopefully with all A’s). But hopefully that’s not all you’ve done. I hope you really learned from your classes and professors and maintained the skills you gained along your MBA journey. I hope you developed real relationships with your peers that will last for the long haul. After all, your cohort is truly a group of world changers. I hope you took advantage of every guest speaker, working group meeting, and free food opportunity you had capacity for. And most of all, I hope you took time to leave Heller just a little bit better for the dreamers coming after you. 

Calah McQuarters, M.B.A., we did not see this coming when we were young, dreaming up our life. But that’s what happens when you accept the plan for you that’s so much bigger than just you. However, this degree and title means nothing if you haven’t grown internally as much as you have added to your resume externally. So here are some personal ways I hope you’ve grown. I hope you learned to have patience and grace for yourself and those around you. I hope you let go of the perfectionist inside you and learned to live in the beauty of imperfection that is this world. Knowing us, we’re still working on that one. I hope you have learned to be okay with the unknown and to find excitement in discovering more about you and your unconventional path. 

Now, all this growth and accomplishment hasn’t come without hard work, but I know you have put in the work! You have probably read more pages of material in the past 16 months than you had in the 23 years before starting the program. You have also likely learned the hard way how to manage your time between classes, work, extracurriculars, and moments of self care. Hopefully, you didn’t bite off more than you could chew, but again, knowing us, you probably did, more than once. Lastly, you have no doubt used your voice and your action to be the change you want others to experience as future Heller students. 

So what’s next? Are you staying in the Boston area or going off to start a new adventure elsewhere? Are you starting your career in consulting or going back to nonprofit work? Whatever you do and wherever you go, I hope you hold on to the learner in you. I hope you don’t let the questions and unknowns overwhelm your excitement and curiosity. I hope you take time to celebrate this noteworthy moment in your life and I hope you remember, this is just the beginning! “Don’t be afraid of work that has no end.” That’s your motto, so let’s get to work!

Love.

Current Calah

A Letter to My Future Self (to read upon graduation): Brielle Ruscitti

Brielle Ruscitti, MS GHPM/MA SID'24 Headshot

Brielle Ruscitti, MS GHPM/MA SID’24

Dear Future Brielle,

You’re graduating from Heller with two degrees in two years, congratulations! How does it feel? Did you get to experience all you wanted during your time at Heller? I hope you found a balance between the two degrees and have been able to fine tune your passions. I’m happy to see you figured out the practicum and a master’s final project, all the worrying and planning paid off. I hope you were able to participate in meaningful service in your community and find research you were passionate about. I hope you enjoy graduation and a renewed sense of accomplishment, maybe take some time off and celebrate! I hope that you still enjoy going out to try new restaurant recommendations.

I have so many questions I hope you can answer. Where are you headed next? Are you going to be living abroad, or staying in Boston? Are you starting a new job? If yes, are you going to be working for a non-profit, an NGO or maybe a research institute? If not, are you considering more education? Well, I hope that more school is not plan A, but maybe something in the future. I hope you’ve found a job that fits you, your skills and passions, and that you’re excited to start. Maybe you even have a bit of time off between graduation and starting your career.

Outside of your career, what are your next life steps? I hope you’ve been able to travel while still in school and that if you’re headed into a career, it will lend to a similar life style.  Whatever next step you’ve chosen, I know that you’ve made the right choice. Also, I really hope you’re still planning to get a dog or a cat, if you haven’t already, in the near future- hint, a graduation gift to yourself!

I hope during this time that you think back to your undergraduate graduation and know how much uncertainty and doubt you have overcome to get to this moment and that everything has worked out exactly as it should. I hope you took time to learn new skills, try different classes, maybe test out a new hobby and took time to just be present. I hope you take time to appreciate all the support and love you have received during this time and thank your family and friends. Once again, congratulations and I hope you know you’ve made Brielle of 2022 proud.

Love,

Past Brielle

Andy’s Advice to Maximizing your Time at Professional Conferences

Andy Mendez, MBA/SID'23

Andy Mendez, MBA/SID’23

One huge benefit of Heller’s location in Waltham, MA is its proximity to Boston. Graduate school is not only about coursework, but about professional development and networking building. Boston is home to local chapters of many nationally recognized professional associations, including Reaching Out MBA, the National Black MBA Association, the Association of Latino Professionals for America, and the National Association of Asian American Professionals. 

Thanks to the generous support of the Graduate Student Association and Heller’s Office of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion,  seven other Social Impact MBA candidates and alumni and I had the opportunity to attend the 44th annual National Black MBA Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. The schedules at these conferences are typically jam-packed with many workshops, expos, and receptions that run concurrently. As a result, it can be hard to know what to prioritize if you don’t go in with a game plan. Here’s what I learned about how to maximize your time at conferences. 

Research Employers Beforehand

The National Black MBA Conference held a two day Career Expo from 9 to 5 on Thursday and Friday with 200+ employers. We realized pretty quickly that it was physically impossible to try and talk to representatives at all 200 companies, especially since there were workshops and receptions happening throughout the day that we were also very interested in attending. Instead, we needed to approach this strategically. I used my time in the airport and on the plane to review the list of exhibiting employers and narrow it down to the top 20 that I was interested in, with the intention of talking to 10 employers each day of the expo. In reality, I ended up speaking with around 13 employers in total. Conversations with companies where there was clearly no alignment took less than 5 minutes. In contrast, my conversations with companies that were a good fit took around 20 minutes, which meant, in an hour, I had only talked to three.  In hindsight, I should have reviewed the employer list a lot sooner, and that way I could have printed more tailored resumes to hand to each employer. 

Scout out the Space

Each day of the expo, I began by doing one big round of the space to identify who was present and where the employers I was interested in were located. This is actually how I realized that there was a rotation, and not every employer was present every day, but rather, were there for a specific timeblock. I ended up missing two employers of interest because I didn’t realize this sooner. 

Leverage Technology

One thing that helped a lot was having LinkedIn downloaded as an app on my phone. In the app version, I was able to pull up a QR code that employers could scan and immediately add me to their networks. The second day of the expo, I realized it was better for me to scan the employer’s code, that way I could screenshot their profiles and have an easy list of people to follow up with post-conference. If you’re not big on LinkedIn, or if you forgot to bring physical copies of your resume, you could also consider downloading the HiHello app. This app allows you to create multiple profiles that you can send to others via QR code. Having multiple profiles allows you to tailor information to specific audiences. For example, maybe you have a graduate student profile that uses your school email and a job search profile that uses your personal email. I’ve had friends who had a separate profile for themselves as business owners. On HiHello, you can include a link to the social media of your choice and to a virtual company of your resume. 

Final Thoughts

When attending conferences, it’s important to remember that you can’t see or do it all. Researching the schedule, employers, and (if possible) attendees will help you identify the best places to focus your time and energy. The Heller Career Development Center newsletter, student working groups, and alumni are some of the best sources for identifying conferences that are a good fit for your academic and professional interests. Happy networking!

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