Alumni Share Their Career Paths with Undergraduates at Career Event

Alumni Share Their Career Paths with Undergraduates at Career Event

Alumni Carrer Luncheon

Eighty SESP undergraduates turned out to hear about alumni careers at a special event on October 26. This career event with 12 alumni over Reunion Weekend gave students insight into potential careers and reinforced connections with alumni.

Alumni participants, who talked with small groups of students, were Jennifer Leyton-Armakan (BS07), Pei Chen (BS11), Rebecca Clark (BS98), Julie Danis (BS77), Nancy Firfer (BS67), Mary Jo Gabel (BS67), Katherine Giertych (BS10), Nancy Haar (BS82), Manini Madia (BS97), Lauren Marino (BS07), Nancy Mynard (BS67) and Avni Patel (BS07). Their careers range from law to education to financial management.

For most of the alumni, SESP practicums or projects led directly to related careers. Leyton-Armakan, who completed her practicum at Children's Memorial Hospital in the partial hospitalization unit, is now a psychologist who focuses on children and adolescents. She is involved in therapy, assessment and consultation. Chen, who completed her SESP practicum at Mission Measurement, which does consulting for nonprofits, now works in consulting for Oliver Wyman.

Haar is a general partner of Endeavor Capital Management, a private equity firm investing in expansion stage companies, and her mentor from her SESP practicum site hired her for her first job, at Edelman Worldwide. Madia's practicum at A.T. Kearney, a management consulting firm, sparked her interest in business and led to a career in strategy consulting and brand marketing. Now she is vice-president of consulting for Kantar Retail Consulting.

Patel, who interned with a domestic violence legal clinic during college, is the assistant district attorney at the Bronx County District Attorney's Office. She has also worked as a prosecutor at the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office and as an intern with Congresswoman Kay Khan in Massachusetts. Marino, who was involved in community development and service at Northwestern and did her honors thesis on fair trade practices in Uganda, is community manager at Ashoka, a nonprofit that supports social innovation.

Education was a recurring theme in alumni career stories. Clark, who taught in Kenya and Baltimore, is now director of school supports in the Office of Special Education and Supports at Chicago Public Schools. Giertych, who earned a master’s degree from the University of Edinburgh, teaches English at Antioch Community High School. Julie Keller (BS07), who Skyped in from Seattle, is a guidance counselor at an independent school there.

Other alumni made transitions from teaching to business careers, such as Firfer, who taught school and served as the mayor of Glenview and is now senior adviser at the Metropolitan Planning Council. After teaching secondary math for six years, Gabel is a financial consultant and has served as chair of many not-for-profit boards.

Starting as a teacher, Mynard later became an entrepreneur with her own health equipment business and an advocate for bringing medical treatment to underserved populations. She founded services for drug testing for family law, paternity testing for court cases and professional development for lawyers.

A writer, blogger, and humorist, Julie Danis is a Chicago-based strategic marketing professional and an adjunct lecturer at Northwestern University Medill School. She has worked for Frito-Lay, Inc. and held senior level strategist positions at J. Walter Thompson/Chicago and Draft/Foote, Cone & Belding advertising agencies.

The purpose of the event was to get students “thinking early about life after Northwestern and the wide variety of career options available to them with their SESP degree,” says Megan Redfearn (MS12), an undergraduate adviser who organized the event.

“The student affairs staff is working to structure programming to … support connections between alumni and students, and encourage students to organize around communities of practice,” says Redfearn.

Caption: Senior Aria Fiat (center) talks with Jennifer Leyton-Armakan (BS07. left) and other alumni at the career event on October 26.

By Marilyn Sherman with photos by Steve Drey
Last Modified: 12/18/12