Graduation Year: 2011
Major: English and American Literatures and Studio Art
Thank you, Emily, for taking the time to speak with us. How did you explore your career path after you graduated from Middlebury? What drew your interest into project management? After graduating Middlebury and majoring in English and Studio Art, I helped my friends and family create websites. I did this work for a year in addition to different internships as the economy was still recovering from the recession. What helped me most in my job search was networking. After reaching out to different alumni and people in my network, I was granted a position as Media Project Coordinator at Boulder’s Housing Authority. Working at this nonprofit, my role was multifold. My responsibilities included managing communications and public relations. After gaining professional skills for over a year, I shifted into a Business Analyst role at Epsilon. In my six years here, I followed leadership and transitioned into project management. I was drawn to the collaborative aspects of the field and project-based schedule. Now, I’m a Senior Technical Project Manager at Oracle.
How did your Middlebury education prepare you for your career? Middlebury prepared me with the development of soft and hard skills. From learning how to research to working with others, these skills have been invaluable in my career. In addition, I’ve learned how to take initiative and hit the ground running. With many of the roles I’ve held, businesses were tight on training and expected new hires to learn quickly and hop on different projects with a range of responsibilities. Thanks to the interdisciplinary approach at Middlebury and diverse leadership opportunities, I was able to transfer those skills into any role.
What are some of the crucial skills going into project management and how should students prepare? There are two main things to consider when thinking of pursuing a career in project management: the process and the differences among different industries. The process depends heavily on research and maintaining clear communication working with collaborators and clients to ensure a project follows a timeline and is completed without wasting resources. While technology is a big component, my work has always depended on maintaining good social interactions. The type of industry also requires different skills and software proficiency. Some industries like construction may focus more on analyzing risk to complete a large infrastructural project by a set deadline while in the pharmaceutical industry, maintaining clear communication between administrators and health professionals may prove more beneficial.
How do you suggest that students maximize their Liberal Arts education? I would recommend liberal arts students to pair their professional interests with technology. This cross-disciplinary approach allows for approaching problems through different perspectives for better solutions. A good starting place would be taking advantage of software learning while at Middlebury. I learned invaluable skills through the Lynda platform and would recommend the newly transitioned LinkedIn Learning platform for anyone hoping to gain some technical skills in any field. In addition, I think students should make use of the Middlebury alumni and grow their own networks. In my experiences, I’ve never gotten anywhere by just applying to positions with a direct connection. Instead, through referrals and reaching out, I was able to get follow-ups in positions I was interested in. Students should leverage their network to advance in their career.
What was your most memorable experience at Middlebury? It’s difficult for me to pinpoint a singular experience but I had so much fun my first semester. As a Feb, I approached it with an open spirit and explored the different experiences Middlebury had to offer. In addition to my first Spring semester, I still remember some iconic Halloween parties in Johnson. I hope those are still taking place in some shape, way or form.
What is one thing you like about working from home? As a project manager, most of my work can actually be done remotely. This quarantine hasn’t completely changed my routine as I’m still doing work from home. Although we’re in quarantine, it’s much nicer having company from my husband. Days don’t seem so lonely anymore.
This article was written by Arturo Simental ’20.
This series is coordinated by Xiaoli Jin ’19. Look for more alumni profiles each week. You can connect with Xiaoli on LinkedIn.
If you are interested to interview alumni and contribute to this series, please contact Xiaoli Jin 2019′ on Midd2Midd.
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