Students learn from alumni in Washington

Elisabeth Roche

Career Services led a trip to Washington, D.C., giving 42 students a chance to learn about careers in government and politics on Nov. 13.

Students received advice from alumni who work for nonprofits, lobbying firms and on Capitol Hill.

Speakers included alumnae Christina Baumgardner, Class of ’06, and Catherine Murray, Class of ’05, who are both legislative assistants in Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey’s office. The alumnae spoke about the role of the legislative staff and fielded questions from students.

Christopher D’Arcy, Class of ’88, who worked on Capitol Hill and now works in lobbying, spoke about how to obtain and move forward in political careers.

Sarah Marchal Murray, Class of ’98, spoke about careers in nonprofit organizations and how she eventually got there.

A theme of nontraditional paths was consistent among the alumni who spoke, all of whom found their careers in interesting ways.

Featured alumni spent time in the Peace Corps, campaigning for Obama or waiting tables while interning.

“Not a single speaker said, ‘This is what you need to do, and this is when you need to do it,'” said Bridget Liberty Halligan, a junior political science major who went on the trip. “They told me that with passion, perseverance, and hard work, I could happily take any route and end up successful.”

The program was attended by students of several majors, the majority being political science.

The program was part of an effort to have more site visits for arts students.

Programs like this are beneficial for students.

They get the opportunity to network and visit an environment in which they are interested in working, without the burden of a cost.

In order to continue sponsoring trips like this in the future, Career Services hopes to begin co-sponsorship with other offices and departments.

“The reason we do this is because it gives students opportunities to make connections and to further their careers,” said Jennifer Mullen, assistant director of Student Services at Career Services, who coordinated the trip. “Students were able to network and learn about different careers, and hopefully they all got something out of it.”

“The most beneficial aspect of this trip was hearing from young professionals who were in my position not too long ago,” said Halligan. “The Villanova graduates we heard from were well spoken, well-educated and genuinely interested in their careers. Seeing this allowed me to see what the phrase, ‘I’m a political science major’ can turn into. I liked what I saw and now feel confident I am pursuing my passion.”

The last part of the evening was a networking reception with Villanova alumni, where students were encouraged to get advice and speak with alumni within their field of interest.

According to Mullen, the networking reception was the most beneficial part of the day.

Students took advantage of the opportunity to mingle with alumni and learn about their careers. They also made connections and developed relationships.

Students were encouraged to obtain business cards from those they spoke with at the reception and follow up in the future.

Matt Kerbel, director of the Washington Minimester program, asked students to consider signing up for the Minimester, which is similar to this program but much more in depth.

“It is absolutely vital for students to be able to see what they are working towards,” Halligan said. “I think that if students could see the fruits of their education in action, they would feel more eager to soak up everything and take advantage of all Villanova’s opportunities to prepare for that goal that is now tangible.”