Students leave St. Edward’s with a host of skills – writing, research, networking – and mentors who help them find their next opportunity. We talked with graduates from the past three years about what they’re doing now, and how their St. Edward’s education prepared them for the real world.
After graduation, Writing and Rhetoric major Kendra Coet ’19 attended the Columbia Publishing Course at Oxford, considered the top publishing program worldwide. The program counts many top editors and executives among its alumni. Coet is now writing newsletters and handbooks for a small tech company while building her own blog, for which she interviews people whose life paths look a little different than they expected.
One thing I’ll never forget about the publishing course: The book workshop, which is a weeklong simulation where we worked in a group to create a hypothetical publishing company. Depending on what job you get in your group, you could be working on the project all night long for multiple days in a row. I was the first person to get to our workspace and the last to leave every night. When the project was done, we had created a prospectus that the whole team was proud of.
My advice for new graduates: COVID changed everything for everyone, especially job seekers. While you’re job-hunting, keep being productive, and keep up to date on your field. For me, that means finding a way to keep writing and being creative every day.
Biology major Joshua Rios ’20 is a research associate at AgonOx, a small biotech company in Portland, where he focuses on developing cancer immunotherapies. “We are extremely close to a clinical trial and treating patients, something that is pretty cool to be a part of at such an early stage in my career,” he says.
My St. Edward’s mentors: The entire Biology department helped me, but three professors stand out in helping me prepare for this job. Dr. Quinn, my research, academic and life mentor, kept me motivated to continue my search for roles in this field. He’s more than a professor, and our professors have more impact than being advisors. Dr. Baynham introduced me to immunology through her Microbiology course. And Dr. Gold, who taught Immunology, broadened my perspective on what immunology is and what you can do as a scientist in this field.
My advice for new graduates: Have confidence in your skills, and stay open minded. I was reminded by Dr. Quinn, my biology professor, to be open to different job roles and opportunities instead of looking for one specific thing. It completely changed the way I was applying and interviewing for jobs.
English Literature and Business Administration major Kali Ridley ’19 attended both the Columbia Publishing Course at Oxford and the NYU Summer Publishing Institute in New York. She now lives in Queens, New York, and is the editorial assistant for business and finance higher education textbooks at John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
How my post-college publishing courses helped: Attending both programs was the smartest decision that I made. I got my job through the assistant director of the NYU Summer Publishing Institute.
What it takes to do this job: You have to be very organized; have solid time management skills; communicate professionally and effectively; and be able to quickly pick up the different programs, applications, and processes that a company uses because things are constantly changing.
My advice for new graduates: Make connections where you can, because you never know who you might end up meeting and how your goals could align.
After graduation, Political Science major Benji Fitten ’19 worked as an AmeriCorps volunteer for the City of Austin’s transportation department and with CivicArts, which integrates arts and city planning. He is now a law student at Catholic University, focusing on social justice, urban planning and immigration policy.
The St. Edward’s experience that prepared me for law school: In my upper-division Political Science courses I learned skills like close reading, annotating, and being aware of where the "fluff" is. Also, I wrote my research papers about topics I was genuinely interested in – refugee migration and state or local politics – and that meant I learned a lot more about the subjects.
My advice if you’re considering grad school: Do something between undergrad and grad school to broaden your scope. And when you decide to do something, commit to it. I nearly dropped out of AmeriCorps a couple months into it, but I decided to stick it through. That was a good choice, because I got involved in municipal government, urban planning and bicycle mobility – fields that I want to pursue later – and I learned a lot about working in municipal government.
Psychology major Ana Vielma ’19 is a PhD student in Educational Psychology at the University of Texas.
The St. Edward’s experience that prepared me for grad school: As a sophomore, I began searching for guidance from mentors who could help me navigate the challenges of being a first-generation, low-income undergraduate. After I was accepted to the McNair Scholars Program, I was able to cultivate my passion for research and service. And my psychology professor’s mentorship helped me feel confident in my ability to conduct independent research and pursue a career in academia.
What I’ve learned so far in my doctoral program: My research is ultimately meant to have a material impact on the quality of life of marginalized communities. Every day, I am reminded that academics have a lot of work to do in order to bridge the gap between our “ivory towers” and community engagement.
Jacob Gonzalez ’20, a Finance major, is a junior analyst at JPMorgan. He interned at JPMorgan the summer before his senior year and was extended a full-time offer at the end of his internship. He’s now part of the two-year Corporate Analyst Development Program, in which he completes three 8-month rotations in different parts of the firm.
The St. Edward’s experience that prepared me for this job: My finance courses helped develop my love for capital markets and financial services, and my professors pushed me. My teammates in club lacrosse helped me develop my competitive advantage. Several of my teammates were getting impressive internships – at Deloitte, KPMG and Dell – in our sophomore year, so that pushed me to match them.
My advice to new graduates: Be a good communicator. You can teach a nice person technical skills, but it’s hard to teach a stubborn person how to be friendly. Absorb all the information you are given at the office, and always be willing and eager to help out your coworkers. Networking is 60 percent of moving up the corporate ladder.
Environmental Science and Policy major Sarah Morton ’18 earned a master’s in Biodiversity Conservation and Management at Oxford University. She is now a research analyst at Global Water Intelligence’s Austin office, where she conducts research and writes articles about the business of water infrastructure.
My St. Edward’s experience that prepared me for this job: Dr. Beck’s Environmental Politics and Policy class helped me learn to critically evaluate information and formulate coherent arguments as well as cultivate strong writing skills. Dr. Steffenson’s Evolution class helped me develop quantitative research skills and understand complex topics in biodiversity conservation. Conducting independent research prepared me for graduate school, and I would recommend that any student who’s considering grad school in science get involved in research.
My advice to new graduates: Many more people than we think suffer from impostor syndrome! In the past few years I've been surrounded by colleagues and supervisors who are so highly accomplished and just all-around incredible that I was initially intimidated. But I have learned from them how to leverage my own individual talents, skills and experiences to achieve my goals. Don't shy away from opportunities that come your way, and don't be afraid to ask for help and advice.
Political Science major Skylar Garza ’19 is a doctoral student in the Leadership in Higher Education program at St. Edward’s. He is helping start a nonprofit organization to help students stay engaged in school and in social-emotional development over the summer.
The St. Edward’s experience that prepared me for this program: In my Legislative Process course, I learned how to create a plan, take action and follow up. I recognized what drives me as a human: to help people improve their own lives. This class showed me what St. Edward’s wants you to experience: real change that engages the community in a positive manner.
Accounting major Theila Galvan ’19 is a risk consulting associate at the audit, tax and consulting firm RSM. She began as a summer intern and was hired full-time at RSM that fall.
How I got this job: I asked my professor, Dr. Single, if she had any connections to an internship where I could practice both accounting and IT, a secondary interest of mine. She introduced me to a risk consulting manager at RSM, and I met with him and the rest of the team over tostadas the following weekend. I am forever thankful for Professor Single for her advice and for helping me land in my profession. I enjoy what I do, and my career has helped me grow professionally and personally.
My advice to new graduates: Be proactive and communicate with professors and advisors, since they are aware of opportunities and can help you make great connections.
Finance and Accounting major Ashley Nassy ’20 is a student in the master of Accounting with Data and Analytics program at the University of Mississippi, which has partnered with Big Four accounting firm KPMG to offer specialized coursework that prepares graduates to work in audit or tax for KPMG. Nassy’s tuition and other expenses are covered by KPMG, and she’ll have a job waiting for her when she graduates.
My advice if you’re considering grad school: Start the application process early so you are able to take the entrance exams and put together your application before the deadlines. The top graduate program applications open up a year in advance. Business and accounting graduate programs look closely at your work and internship experience, so communicate with your professors and advisers about this starting your freshman year.
English Writing and Rhetoric major Eleanor Fishbourne ’19 is the senior business development coordinator at Greenleaf Book Group, an Austin-based book publisher and distributor. She guides new authors through the submissions process and oversees book review.
The St. Edward’s experience that prepared me for this job: The English department at St. Edward’s is incredible at preparing you for work after college. Dr. Clements’ Editing class gave me skills I applied as an editorial intern at Greenleaf. Her Career Preparation course helped me navigate the application and interview process.
How I got this job: I had told most of my professors that my dream was to work in publishing. My senior year, when someone at Greenleaf reached out to St. Edward’s about an editorial internship opening, two of my professors sent it my way. After my internship, I started working here full time.
My advice to new graduates: Take rejection in stride. I actually got turned down from Greenleaf when I initially applied for an internship, but I kept in touch with my interviewer. Three months later I inquired with them again, a position opened up, and I got it. I think that even the experience of applying and interviewing makes you a stronger applicant for the next opportunity.
Psychology major Zachary Van Cleef ’20 is a student in the master of Human-Computer Interaction program at Carnegie Mellon University.
The St. Edward’s experience that prepared me for this program: Conducting research in psychology with Professor Michael Disch allowed me to apply what I had been learning in the classroom to real-world practice. The ability to contextualize a problem and create a solution that encompasses models, theories, and knowledge from the classroom has been indispensable.
Mathematics major Karlee Bradley ’20 is working in a year of service at André House, a mission to the poor and vulnerable on the streets of Phoenix, Arizona. André House is inspired by the Congregation of Holy Cross and is part of the Catholic Worker movement.
The St. Edward’s experience that prepared me for this job: My junior year, I spent spring break at André House through a Service Break Experience led by Campus Ministry. I fell in love with it and knew I wanted to come back. My leadership within Campus Ministry and the Office of Community Engagement also prepared me for this job through the various trainings on privilege, which helped prepare me for working with the homeless community and those who have not been given the same privileges as me.
How this job fits in with my life plan: I wanted to have this experience before committing to another job that wouldn’t give me these opportunities. I live in community with five other people, and we all work at André House together. I’ll never forget the kind and loving people I work with and serve.
Gavin Quinn ’19, an English Writing and Rhetoric major, is the programs assistant at the Texas Book Festival. This fall he is helping produce the festival, which involves more than 100 authors, as a virtual event.
The St. Edward’s experience that prepared me for this job: Professor Eakman’s Grant Writing class helped me get this position. Each student wrote a grant for a nonprofit, and I chose the Texas Book Festival. A year later, a member of the TBF staff recommended I apply for a job with the organization. And Dr. West’s Poetry classes have been invaluable for my work. It may sound odd, since I don’t do much poetry writing in my job, but those classes helped me develop a strong creative process, which is essential to my daily work.
My advice to new graduates: Always be willing to try new things. I studied creative writing at St. Edward's, but most of my professional career thus far has been defined by my graphic and motion design and video editing work. Not only has that expanded my professional opportunities, but it gives me lots of new ways to engage my creativity in my personal time.
Communication and Catholic Studies major Andi Theis ’19 is a student in the master of divinity program at Notre Dame, which prepares graduates for careers in ministry. She chose the program because she wanted a rich theological education and preparation to follow her call to serve the Catholic Church in a leadership role.
The St. Edward’s experience that prepared me for this program: The university’s efforts to build strong writers. I do a lot of writing in this program, and I am so grateful to have had such good professors, like Dr. Coblentz-Bautch, who encouraged critical thinking and pushed me to be better.
Gerardo Chapa ’20, a Finance major, is a technical product associate at Elevate Growth Partners, a commercial real estate firm. The job draws on skills from both his degree in Finance and his minor in Computer Science.
The St. Edward’s experience that prepared me for this job: I worked as a financial analyst and project manager in the St. Edward’s Office of Information Technology. My project management experience and strong network of mentors allowed me to confidently navigate my various internship experiences by being bold, always asking questions, coming to work eager to learn, and not being afraid of making an impact in an organization, regardless of my position.
How I got this job: I interned with Elevate in the spring semester. My initial responsibilities were to help brokers in any step of the commercial real estate transaction process. Given my background in Computer Science and my experience with IT, however, I quickly found myself offering to do more and more technical or IT-related tasks. Elevate was and is an exciting place to work because it is part brokerage firm, part tech startup, and my internships showed me how these parts of the business worked together.