Class of ’20 Finds a Way Forward
A strong academic foundation and exceptional advising are helping many overcome unusual challenges and reach their post-graduation goals.
Ask a member of the Class of 2020 how they were able to quickly achieve their post-graduation goals and you will hear a wide variety of answers, ranging from transformational courses to internships and research opportunities. But you’ll notice a common thread: Each one will mention the name of someone on campus who played an outsized role in connecting them with opportunities and navigating the hurdles endemic to these unprecedented times.
For Lauren Journet, a criminology major who in April secured a position with the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF), that someone was Christina Burney, director of the Career Development Center.
“She was always a phone call away and had an answer to every single question I asked,” Journet said. “Without her help, I wouldn’t have landed my internship last fall with the DCF. Without my internship and help from Career Development, applying for jobs would have been a lot harder this spring.”
For others, the pivotal person was a faculty member in their major, a spiritual advisor in Campus Ministry or a staff member who mentored them during their work-study experience. It is a testament to the relationships that form at Stonehill, where people from every corner of campus relish the opportunity to support the students here.
And the results speak for themselves.
Graduates from across all of Stonehill’s graduate and undergraduate programs have found success, with post-graduate plans that include launching careers at financial companies, positions related to COVID-19 research, jobs in healthcare and human resources. Among them is James Lynch, who graduated this year from the integrated marketing communications master’s degree program and recently launched his own artisanal foods company, Green Vines Pickling Co.
"My Stonehill IMC master's degree has given me the tools and confidence not only to advance in my current job, but it has provided me with the entrepreneurial spark necessary to launch my own business," Lynch said. "If it were not for the guidance and encouragement of my Stonehill professors and fellow IMC classmates, Green Vines Pickling Company may have just stayed an idea scribbled on a cocktail napkin. It was a marvelous experience."
Others have plans to attend graduate schools, including several who are joining Stonehill’s graduate programs in inclusive education and integrated marketing communications.
According to Andrew Leahy, associate director in the Career Development Center, the office has heard from 75 percent of the 641 members of the Class of 2020, with the majority reporting a confirmed post-graduate placement.
“The Career Development Center did amazing work throughout the spring, and continues, through their presence on social media, to keep the Class of 2020 apprised of opportunities and virtual events,” Dean of the Meehan School of Business Debra Salvucci said.
Among the many success stories from the Meehan School: Lauren Cleary, a marketing and graphic design double major who is now a graphic designer at Showfields in New York, and management major Sawyer Lemay, who is now an analyst at Constant Contact.
With the start of the pandemic, Leahy noted how his office was forced to make a quick adjustment. “We had to think really quickly and creatively,” he said. “We had to figure out new obstacles students would be facing.”
The Career Development Center added a new section to its web pages and immediately began offering meetings with students via phone and in online meeting platforms. Additionally, Leahy said the office ran two or three programs a week to give students a point of access.
“The job search during the pandemic is very stressful,” said Airika Laguerre (top photo), a biology major who landed a position as a manufacturing associate for COVID vaccine developer Moderna Therapeutics. “A lot of companies were going in different directions from positions they had posted or they were going on hiring freezes. I really utilized the emails Andrew Leahy would send about companies still hiring during the pandemic.”
For William Troast, a political science and criminology double major, the situation forced him to reassess his decision to dive into the job market and instead apply to graduate school. It was a pivot made easier by an educational approach that emphasizes intellectual flexibility and, once again, was made possible with the help of several mentors, including Sara Polcari, assistant director in the Career Development Center.
“She always made herself available and was willing to read through all of my documents, making sure that I marketed myself in the best possible way,” Troast said. “I not only ended up getting into my top choice school (George Mason University), but I was awarded a fellowship too. Without the Career Development Center’s help I would’ve been completely lost, but they guided me through every step of the process.”