My OUS Story: Marisa Reinhart

Senior Marisa Reinhart from Pequannock, New Jersey, has made the most of her Villanova Career. She chose to attend Villanova because she witnessed a community where everyone was enjoying their time. She also wanted a medium sized liberal arts college where she could continue to pursue her love of critical reading and writing and to figure out how to apply it in her future. Her love of sports also prompted her to attend a school with a sports presence, which, as she recalled, worked out. She also said that she has a twin brother at Seton Hall, which has prompted a huge Big East rivalry in her family.

She also recalled an unforgettable experience from her childhood. “When I was four, I was on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, and the engines caught on fire, so they stopped the boat, got it under control, and we chugged back to Bermuda to fly home. But Tina Fey ended up being on it. She wrote about it in her book that it was her honeymoon cruise in 2001 before she was big. My mom read the book and we realized that it must have been the same cruise we were on.”

She came into the university undecided as a Freshman, but she was open to experience the well-roundedness of a liberal arts education by taking different classes and seeing what most captured her interest. After exploring different courses, she discovered that her passion lay in Communications and declared it as a minor with a specialization in Public Relations. She also has a double minor in History and Peace and Justice.

Her time at Villanova has been full of a plethora of internships and extracurriculars. Her first internship occurred during the summer after her Freshman year at a lifestyle website and video editing agency firm near her house called “Hip New Jersey.” There she wrote blog posts and contributed to social media marketing. Overall, she found it to be a good learning experience.

Her second internship, during her sophomore year, was an on-campus one with OUS that came about after she took Kate Szumanski’s ASPD course called Professional Writing. After bonding with Kate, she decided to apply for the position of Strategic Marketing Intern that would serve under Kate. She and the other interns worked together on promotional materials for professional development events, on social media, and on a brand-new transfer guide that would help students who transferred into Villanova.

On working with Kate, Marisa said, “She has been such a resource over the years. I’ve sent her my resumes and cover letters to read, or she’ll forward me events that she thinks I might be interested in, and she has written me letters of recommendation. So, Kate is definitely the best person, but there are so many people at Villanova who just want to help their students. I think finding someone like that is fundamental to your success. It was nice to find her earlier on in my college experience, rooting for me on campus.”

Then, during her junior year, she had a virtual internship for a luggage company where she helped with social media promotion. She also did part-time volunteer work for a non-profit that encouraged women to run for political offices. For them, she was a public relations intern and wrote press releases and assisted at events and workshops they hosted.

Last summer, she worked as a Retail Marketing Intern at Pierre Fabre Group, a French pharmaceutical company, and dealt with their haircare and skincare brands through product launching and writing copy for their products. She recalled it as one of her favorite internships, because not only did she get free products out of it, but she was able to work for a company that had a global outreach, so she could learn about what goes into working for a global company.  

Currently, she interns for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Media Relations Office. She helps run their Instagram and writes blog posts and press releases. She said, “I have written press releases in my classes, but it’s been great to write real press releases and then also running the Instagram for the college. So, it’s been a cool experience this year since I’m building a portfolio to send out for jobs in the future, and now I can display some of the real-world work that I have been been doing so far.”

She had also made a strong impact on the Villanova Community through her extracurriculars. As a sophomore, she founded Villanova’s chapter of She’s the First, a national non-profit organization that raises money for girls around the world to be the first in their family to graduate from high school. Villanova’s chapter has now sponsored girls in Sierra Leon for tuition for three years and has held many fundraisers on campus like bake sales, Documentary Screenings, and a cheese buffet called Cheese the First.

On founding the chapter, she said, “I watched a documentary called ‘Girl Rising,’ which talked about educational inequities around the world. I also watched it when Michelle Obama was doing her ‘Let Girls Learn Initiative,’ and the impact of Malala’s courage, who was our age, still impacted me. I learned that there wasn’t a club that dealt with girls’ global education at Villanova. Because of that, I began She’s the First here on campus. Now, we train students here at Villanova to be global citizens that learn about educational and gender inequities. I have since passed on the presidential torch to someone else, and it was exciting to see that it’s going to continue after I leave. Starting She’s the First has shaped everything I have done on campus, inspiring me to work for a non-profit someday or a company that is socially responsible.”

She also serves as the Senior Class Representative for the Student Government Association where she also serves as the Chair of the Student Life Advisory Committee, where she manages different issues that might arise in student organizations, residence life, and dining hall services. While not doing work for She’s the First and SGA, she dances in the Dance Ensemble and serves as a Student Ambassador for the Anne Welsh McNulty Institute for Women’s Leadership.

To her fellow Villanovans, she advises them to do as much as possible during their four years. “Go to as much as you can. I’ve tried to go on every sort of trek that Villanova has organized, like the Turner Broadcasting Expedition, visiting Ralph Lauren and Vineyard Vines with the business school, and attending a marketing check at media labs and advertising agencies over winter break. I try, even if I don’t know if I am interested in the industry, to expose myself to different things. I was and still am undecided about the industry that I want to be in, but I try to seize every opportunity to discover my career path by going to Bridge Society Events and other professional development events. Take advantage of everything while you can. Also, get involved where you can see yourself committed four years from now. As time goes on with the classes you take and the people you meet, you will find what you are passionate about.”

My OUS Story: Michael Bigley

Senior Michael Bigley, from Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, while playing the trumpet for the Villanova Band, has always made sure to take advantage of any opportunity that has crossed his path. 

His love for mathematics, which began in high school, led him to declare a double major in Math and Economics accompanied with a minor in Statistics and a Certificate in Information Technology. He’s noted that many other students do not know about the Certificate program and told me that, “It’s an easy program designed for people of all majors that requires just four classes involved with IT. I decided to get a certificate since it would match well with the rest of my majors and diversify myself for potential employers.” 

Similarly, he commented on the advantages that a Villanova Education has provided him. “Villanova really helps you out in applying your courses to multiple different aspects, so that I was able to look into all the disciplines I wanted to study and manage my time well. Because of this, I have gained a well-rounded curriculum that I love, which will help me achieve the career that I want someday.”  

Michael got a head start when he began at Villanova as a freshman. “When I first came to Villanova, I had the opportunity to move in early with Early Arrival Band Camp. It made my transition to college easier, since I had the chance to make friendships early on with other freshmen who also didn’t know anyone else. Joining the Villanova Band was a great way for me to continue my interest in music, which when I was applying to college, I didn’t really think about. I had been too focused on what I wanted to study, but when I saw the opportunity to be in the band, I had to pursue it to maintain my love of music.”

Now, you can find him during Villanova’s Basketball games playing along with his trumpet to his personal favorite song that they perform, “Birdland.” He also serves as Webmaster and Newsletter Editor for the Band, for which he maintains the website and creates their newsletters.

His internship search began during his first semester of his junior year. Open to any opportunity for a potential internship, he created a Handshake account for himself and spent his semester applying throughout Philadelphia, New York, and near his hometown in New Jersey, knowing that he wanted an internship that involved Math and Economics. 

December 2017 came around, and he decided to make an appointment with OUS’ Kate Szumanski during the very chaotic time of finals. He made this appointment because he was stressed not only about finals, but about the effectiveness of his resume. 

He recalls that “Kate had another meeting at the time. I think she had accidentally overbooked, but she put her other meeting aside to meet with me, a student, during that stressful time. Because of that, I saw the dedication she has to her students and how she will help us no matter her own schedule. She sat down with me, looked at my resume, gave me a few pointers, and boosted my confidence as well by telling me what was great and what I should expand on. She also provided me with comfort, letting me know that I will get an internship, I will get a job someday, and to keep working, but not beat myself up about it.” 

Finally, in April of his junior year, an opportunity arose with Celgene Corporation, a pharmaceutical company whose headquarters are located in Summit, New Jersey. He was hired to work as an intern in the Commercial IT Division in Hematology and Oncology, where he helped with project organization and management for the company’s upcoming 2019 projects. He also worked with other interns in redesigning the knowledge portal website for onboarding employees. 

His biggest takeaway from Celgene was the educational aspect of his position. His manager ensured that he was learning about all the different aspects of the company and its internal functioning. Every week the company would have “Lunch and Learns” where speakers would come in to talk to the interns. 

I asked him if he remembered one significant speaker that left an impression upon him. “Someone in the company talked to us about ‘CAR-T’ which is a rather new innovative immunotherapy for patients with blood cancer that extracts a patient’s T-cells, alters them to make them stronger, and puts them back in their body to fight the cancer. We later had the chance to tour the facility where they conducted this therapy, and it was really eye-opening to see that while we were working in the IT department, the company as a whole is fighting cancer and other diseases. Listening to this talk about the process and going on the tour reminded us of the company’s mission.”

As for his post graduate plans, he is currently applying to receive a Master’s degree here at Villanova in Applied Statistics. Ideally, he would also like to have a full-time position in Philadelphia or the Villanova area while he pursues his Master’s degree. 

He left the interview with a few pieces of advice for anyone else still searching for their career path. “I would say, take advantage of all the opportunities and resources that are at Villanova. Make sure that you’re checking out the Career Center, OUS, and most of all, make an appointment with Kate Szumanski. Really make sure that you’re making the most of your college experience. Get out there, leave the classroom, participate in extracurricular activities, search for your career opportunities, and make sure that you’re always looking ahead.” 

My OUS Story: Dania Haughton

Senior Dania Haughton from New Haven, Connecticut, though having changed her major at Villanova four times, has never faltered away from her love of sports and sports media. 

Dania said, “When I was applying to school, I told my academic advisor that I wanted a college with good academics that could compete for a national championship in either basketball or football, and I was not joking. Now we’ve won twice during my time here, so I think it’s all been worth it.”

She entered the Business School as a freshman, but sound found that it did not suit her passion for sports media. So, she switched into the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and later declared a communication major with a minor in English. Soon her education led her to her first internship experience after her sophomore year at US Squash.

As a student she found herself always thinking about what comes next for her. “I always think, is what I’m doing now going to help me to where I’m going to go? Because I know where I am, and I know where I want to go, so I’ve always made an effort to do something, even if it wasn’t what I ultimately wanted to do. By taking steps and exploring avenues, I could confirm what I wanted and build up a resume that demonstrated what I am capable of.”

To improve her resume, she took an ASPD Course taught by OUS’s Kate Szumanski on Social Networking her junior year. Recalling this experience, Dania said, “What helped most was meeting with Kate Szumanski individually to build up my LinkedIn profile and to learn how to properly or efficiently format my experiences in a way that was attractive to companies. Overall, it was a valuable experience because nowadays in sports media, your own brand is how people first encounter you.”       

During this course, Kate Szumanski told her about the English Department’s collaboration with Sports Illustrated Magazine that allows Villanova students to have a Co-Op experience at Sports Illustrated in New York City. Disappointed to learn that only English majors could pursue this option, Dania changed her major to English and received the position. She spent the spring semester of her junior year fact checking for the magazine and writing stories for inside.com about the Winter Olympics and March Madness. 

She remembers her co-workers primarily as Michigan Fans. “Everyone else in the office were Michigan fans which was super annoying. We ended up doing commemorative issues for championship teams during March Madness, so we made on for each team in the final four except Villanova, and then Villanova won, so I was like in your face.”

For one of her last assignments during that internship, she was able to attend the WNBA draft in April held at Nike headquarters. There she interviewed all the players that had been drafted. At another event, she was able to interview Diana Taurasi, the league’s all-time leading scorer. As Dania said, “She is a legend.” 

Although she enjoyed her experience, she learned that she did not want to work at a magazine in the future, but that did not stop its value from impacting her life. “I learned as a fact checker that every word matters in journalism. You cannot just throw words in there because it can completely change the meaning of what you’re going to say.”

After the internship, it was difficult adjusting back to her regular routine, and since she had an abundance of Communications credits, she switched her major back to Communications with an English minor on the final day of Add/Drop while pursuing her next internship. 

She found the next one during the summer at ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut, a place where she had dreamed of working since high school. There, she worked with the College Sport Group on pre-season college football content. Her supervisor ensured that she learned about all aspects of the company, and due to their guidance, she was able to learn about every facet of sports media. She also shadowed at Sports Center, NFL Live, sat in on a radio broadcast, and attended MLB Allstar Week as a content editor, something she had never imagined would happen.           

This semester, she currently works as a Production Intern at NBC Sports Philadelphia at Wells Fargo, where she logs76ers and Flyers games, assists with stage managing and camera operations, and archives footage for NBC sports programming.

Reflecting on her varied internship experiences, she said, “All of my internships have been different, and I have gotten to see a lot of different aspects to sports media industry which I appreciate because I think I know what I want to do. Just seeing how different networks function, and how they produce and curate content, based on their audience is very compelling. I am happy to have had the opportunity to see it from different perspectives.” 

Though she currently does not have any plans past graduation, she is considering rotational programs in sports media in broadcast or production, or she will potentially seek a master’s degree in Broadcast Journalism. This is an area she feels is the one she has lacked the most experience in, but has always had the most interest in, especially after taking Broadcast Journalism under the tutelage of NBC’s Keith Jones. 

In regard to her Villanova Experience, it has been her passion for sports that has driven her towards contributing to the Villanovan, to VU Hoops, and working as the Basketball Team Manager for the Women’s team. She has also been a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated for two years, for which she performs community serve to promote heart health awareness, especially for black women. 

She left the interview with one last piece of advice for her fellow Villanovans. “I would say don’t do nothing. When you do nothing, nothing happens. If you do nothing, you’ll never get to where you want to go. Try different things. The reason why I’ve been afforded my internships is because I’ve been open to different kinds of experiences, even though they’ve all been in sports media, since I’m pretty determined the only thing I want to do in life is work in sports media. Just trying different things within your industry helps you narrow down what you want to do and helps you become a more agile, well-rounded person when you are going for your dream job.”

With the Approach of Finals, Consider a Short Study Break: Focus on Your Future

By Kate Szumanski

With finals approaching, now isn’t the best time to think about your career and professional development is it? There are deadlines to meet, tests to study for, and papers to write.

But in these busy moments when you’re sleep deprived and swamped with work, I challenge you to take a deep breath, find a brief quiet time to reflect, and think about what all of this work is leading toward.

Maybe your dream is to become an emergency room doctor, triaging patients and saving lives. Or maybe you’ve always wanted to be a lawyer, fighting for justice in a court of law. Maybe you’re fascinated by operating systems and software advances, and a career in computer programming is calling to you. And maybe you are a whiz with numbers and seek to apply your strong analytical skills on Wall Street in finance.

Or maybe, just maybe, you’re not sure what “you want to be when you grow up.” And you know what, that’s perfectly OK. What’s not OK is not talking about your options, your strengths, and your passions, for therein this discussion might possibly be your professional ambition waiting to be explored.

What are you doing know to lay the foundation for your dream to be realized? What are you doing now to help discover what that professional dream might be?

After you think about these questions, go back to the books. You have finals to ace. But during your winter break, think more deeply about these important issues. Discuss them with people you trust. Think about how you will return to the University in January 2015 with a renewed focus on your professional development.

In the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Villanova University, and in the Office of Undergraduate Students, we teach our students – liberally educated young adults – to be adaptable, nimble, and flexible students and professionals who contribute powerfully to society.

We want our students to realize their full potential, to discover their passions and to pursue them with relentless determination. Maybe it’s through an internship. Maybe it’s through a professional development course. Maybe it’s through one of our many professional development events. Discovering who you are and what your impact can be should help define your Villanova journey.

I encourage students to visit the Office for Undergraduate Students in SAC 107 often. Discover who you are and who you are meant to be. Let our office of dedicated professionals help you on your journey of discovery.

Kate Szumanski, ’95, ’97, is the associate director for experiential education in the Office for Undergraduate Students in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Villanova University. Follow her on Twitter @KateSzumanski.    

[Guest Post] Dean Lindenmeyr’s Do’s and Don’ts for Academic Success in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Dean Lindenmeyr graciously stopped by to share these illuminating tips for success, which she first bestowed upon the class of 2018 at Orientation several weeks ago.

Ten Dean’s Do’s and Don’ts for Academic Success in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Villanova

  1. DO take the time to get to know your professors. Visit them during office hours. Take advantage of their willingness to get to know you better, and to work with you.
  2. DON’T skip class. Ever. You’ll miss important information and annoy your professors; and you want to stay on their good side. And never, ever text or phone in class.
  3. DO buy the textbooks. Open them. Read them.
  4. DON’T sit in class like a lump. Be an active learner, not a limp, passive sponge.
  5. DO study with friends. Learn along with them and from them.
  6. But DON’T cheat. Ever. We know all the ways to cheat, and you will be caught.
  7. DO take at least one course that seems completely exotic and fulfills absolutely no requirement. It could be Gaelic or Russian history, medieval poetry or the sociology of deviance or the chemistry of art. Explore.
  8. DO change your mind at least once about your major or your career goals, even if you change it back later.
  9. DON’T wait until the second semester of your senior year to visit the Career Center in Garey Hall.
  10. DO take advantage of the academic opportunities that are all around you. Do something daring. When a door suddenly opens before you, walk through it.