Tag Archive for Gordon Career Center

Theater Director Kail ’99 Leads Alumni Career Conversation

On March 11, Tony-winning director Thomas Kail '99, presented a fireside chat-style career conversation with the Wesleyan community. Kail's Broadway directing credits include Hamilton, In the Heights, Freestyle Love Supreme, Lombardi, and Magic/Bird. Off-Broadway selected directing credits include Hamilton, Dry Powder, Tiny Beautiful Things, The Wrong Man, In the Heights, Broke-ology, When I Come to Die, and Daphne’s Dive. Broadway producing credits include Derren Brown: Secret and Freestyle Love Supreme. He's also produced shows for television including Fosse/Verdon on FX and Grease: Live on Fox.

On March 11, Tony-winning director Thomas Kail ’99, presented a fireside chat-style career conversation with the Wesleyan community. Kail’s Broadway directing credits include Hamilton, In the Heights, Freestyle Love Supreme, Lombardi, and Magic/Bird. He has also produced shows for television, including Fosse/Verdon on FX and Grease: Live on Fox.

Wesleyan theater majors Milton Espinoza Jr. '22 and Vianca Pérez '22 moderated the event. Nicole Stanton, provost and senior vice president for Academic Affairs introduced Kail to the audience.

Wesleyan theater majors Milton Espinoza Jr. ’22 and Vianca Pérez ’22 moderated the event. Nicole Stanton, provost and senior vice president for Academic Affairs, introduced Kail to the audience. The event was coordinated by the Gordon Career Center.

Milton

Milton Espinoza Jr. ’22, of Newark, N.J., is studying theater and film. On campus he is known for his activism and artwork for the People of Color (POC) community. He’s directed the Second Stage and Shades’ production of In the Heights and has acted in and produced a variety of different shows and films on campus.

Vianca

Vianca Pérez ’22, who was born and raised in Puerto Rico, is double-majoring in theater and feminist, gender, and sexuality studies. She has performed in multiple theater, dance, and film productions and co-leads WesInterpreters, a group that provides legal translation and interpretation services to local schools and organizations.

kail

After a 45-minute conversation, Kail welcomed questions from the audience.

Below are comments made by Kail during the conversation:

On working with others: “I work with my best friends. What’s better than that? So I get to go and spend time—10 to 12 hours a day—with the people I respect the most, admire the most. . . . I like to keep a core of people that I have a relationship with in a shorthand and then add 10 new people to the fold to keep on growing. I love meeting new designers, working with new writers, and I’ve done primarily new stuff. I like being in rehearsal. I like being around people that are looking hard at what they do.”

On getting started after college: “There was a friend of mine from Wesleyan who told me about this little theater in New Jersey called the American Stage Company, and I applied to be an ASM (assistant stage manager). . . . I applied to this job and . . . he said, ‘Here’s what you’re gonna do. You’re going to drive the van and go pick up the actors. You’re going to sweep the stage. You’re going to help us write the program. You’re going to be backstage running props. You’re going to do anything that needs to be done. How does that sound?’ I said, ‘It sounds like what I need.’ And so I took this job. I got paid $84 a week after taxes. I was living in a basement apartment. I worked six days a week, 18 hours a day. Soup and tuna fish. I can’t get either of them now. . . . I just sort of soaked it all up.”

On theater being economically viable: “Especially early on your career . . . [there’s] no one hiring you but yourself. Can I see myself spending years working on this? Does it give me energy? Does it give me joy? Can I balance that with practicality? You just have to talk to yourself honestly. What are your weekly operating costs as a human wherever you live? You [might have] to wait tables or have some other kind of gig, but it allows you to do the thing that fills you up. Then it’s how long can you sustain that balance, and that’s the question every artist has to ask himself constantly. So it’s really an essential question and one that keeps on coming back. And I think it needs to keep coming back. . . . I had two jobs: I worked as a personal assistant for five years until I felt like I was ready to make the leap and I was able to support myself as a director. But that really didn’t happen until my late 20s—I was almost 30 years old. So it’s also just being aware of what’s necessary to get you to each of those next places. Making a living in the theater is absolutely possible but usually has to be supplemented for some period of time, years and years of your life.”

On meeting Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, Hon. ’15: “My friends [and I] worked on shows—a series of shorts—that we did in the Fayerweather Gymnasium, which exists in a different form now, and that’s actually when I first heard about Lin because Lin was doing the show as a freshman. I don’t know about everybody else, but I was not talking to freshmen. I heard about some kid who was borrowing our lights. So we had to share lights with some kid? I was like, who is this? It probably was the first time I heard his name and I cursed his name. Little did I know that [he’d be part of] the next two decades of my life. . . . [Now], if I see Lin digging, and I’m walking by, I don’t ask what he’s doing, I just jump down there and grab the shovel. We’ve never led each other astray. We’ve always been so in sync, and being with him is joyful and we get to make things together.”

On non-directing theater jobs: “I came up a stage manager. I know how hard that job is. I know how hard it is to run the props department or to be backstage. I have an appreciation for my collaborators, and you know, there’s always more to learn, and the best way that I learn is from people. How do you continue to evolve? Put yourself in situations where you don’t go in knowing all of the answers. If you know all the answers then it’s probably time do something else. And so I think if you look at some of the patterns of my career, even though thematically, I think there’s some things that make up [patterns], I tend to not do the same thing twice and occasionally. . . . [W]hat happens often is if you do something pretty well, people say ‘Great, now do it again.’ And I would try to take those opportunities to do something quite different. And I thought that allowed me to continue to expand.”

On bringing diversity and inclusion into the theater industry: “I think it’s the fundamental question of the day, and I think it’s one that we just have to keep way more in the foreground . . . and that includes anybody in any position, whether to a leadership position or not. So the conversations now, as we make new versions of Hamilton with new companies, we’ll talk more directly about what it means to be Black and Brown and telling the story. Embracing the fact that it doesn’t have to be comfortable, but it needs to be respectful and open and truthful, and those are the things that I think matter within the room. . . . So what’s the next evolution of thought for this next generation of storytellers? . . . Stories that have been reaching as diverse an audience as possible.”

On working in theater: “The hard thing is, in theaters, you’ve got to do it every day. No one cares on a Wednesday matinee how good the Tuesday night show was. All they have now is expectations. So you’ve got to deliver. I always think theater is like running a restaurant. You’ve gotta make the meal every time because, ‘I hear the soup’s good,’ so you better make good soup.”

On what he’s watching now: “The thing that is giving me life is on Amazon and it’s Steve McQueen’s Small Axe. It’s five movies about the immigrant experience in London, basically in the late ’60s to 1980s. You can watch one of them, or you can watch them in a row. It’s the most beautiful thing that I’ve seen in the last year.”

Students Connect with Alumni Leaders through Career Conversation Events

This winter, the Gordon Career Center is hosting four “fireside chat” style Winter Alumni Career Conversation events between prominent alumni and current students. Guests include Kimberley Martin ’03, NFL reporter for ESPN; Jon Turteltaub ’85, film/TV director and producer; Jesse Greenspan ’06, director of supply chain and logistics, Partners in Health; and Dana Peterson ’98, chief economist, The Conference Board.

On Jan. 21, Myla Stovall ’22 moderated a talk with Kimberley Martin '03, NFL reporter for ESPN. Martin has covered the National Football League as a national writer and team beat reporter for more than a decade and joined ESPN as an NFL reporter in March 2020. She covers the league year-round and contributes to ESPN’s NFL shows, SportsCenter, ESPN.com and more.

On Jan. 21, psychology and English double major Myla Stovall ’22, at left, moderated a talk with Kimberley Martin ’03, NFL reporter for ESPN. Martin has covered the National Football League as a national writer and team beat reporter for more than a decade and joined ESPN as an NFL reporter in March 2020. She covers the league year-round and contributes to ESPN’s NFL shows, SportsCenter, ESPN.com, and more. During the discussion, Martin recalled the reasons why she chose to attend Wesleyan. “Wesleyan was literally the last school that I visited. I saw every school on the eastern seaboard and Wesleyan just felt like home. I felt like the birds were singing. This is where I needed to be,” she said.

Students Engage with Google Employees through Career Virtual Panel

On Feb. 27, the Gordon Career Center hosted a Google Career Virtual Panel featuring Wesleyan alumni who offered insight on their roles in sales, business, product management, marketing, legal issues, and other roles at Google.

The panel was assembled by Sherry Liang ’20, who completed a WEShadow at Google last winter, and Peer Career Advisor Esmye Lytle ’21.

Speakers included:

Aaron Stoertz '03

Aaron Stoertz ’03

Aaron Stoertz ’03: Stoertz graduated with a BA in English. Since then he worked in conservation biology, public health, and international health policy at the World Health Organization before landing in tech, where he’s worked his way into a position as a product manager at Google Health.

Terry Wei ’07: Wei has 13 years of experience in public relations and communications. She currently leads communications for Waze, the world’s leading crowdsourced navigation app. Previously, Wei was head of public relations at Squarespace and managed product communications at Mercedes-Benz. Originally from California, Wei studied English at Wesleyan and graduated in 2007.

53 Students Participate in Career Trek 2019

Fifty-three Wesleyan students explored the workforce firsthand during the Gordon Career Center’s Fall 2019 Career Treks.

Through five experiential learning trips, students directly connected with Wesleyan alumni and engaged with employers across a wide range of industries.

During the fall 2019 semester, the Gordon Career Center’s team of career advisors facilitated career treks to local, Connecticut-based employers: ESPN, Hartford Hospital’s Center for Education, Simulation and Innovation (CESI), LEGO Systems, Inc., and Pfizer. Additionally, the GCC hosted a day trip for students to Boston to attend the Reach(OUT) LGBTQA+ Career Conference at Northeastern University.

Alumni hosts included Rob King ’84, senior vice president of original content at ESPN; Jordan Schildhaus ’15, assistant account manager, and Ethan Sack ’97, head of US marketing at LEGO; and Giselle Reyes ’18, MA’19, senior associate scientist at Pfizer.

On Nov. 15, 14 Wesleyan students traveled to Enfield, Conn. to learn about a large global, family-owned company. Ethan Sack ’97, head of U.S. marketing, presented an informative overview and Jordan Schildhaus ’15, associate key account manager, moderated a panel discussion that included perspectives from other LEGO staff. Students toured the company, visited the company store to view LEGO product lines, and engaged with model shop staff.

On Nov. 15, 14 Wesleyan students traveled to Enfield, Conn., to learn about a large global, family-owned company: LEGO. Ethan Sack ’97 presented an informative overview and Jordan Schildhaus ’15 moderated a panel discussion that included perspectives from other LEGO staff. Students toured the company, visited the company store to view LEGO product lines, and engaged with model shop staff.

Alumni Speak with Students about Careers in Public Policy, Criminal Justice Reform

: James, Sarah, Nina, Aaron, Lexi

James Jeter ’16, Sarah Cassel ’13, Nina Stender ’16, Aaron Stagoff-Belfort ’18, and Lexi Jones ’17 spoke with students about careers in public policy and criminal justice reform. (Photos by Simon Duan ’23)

More than 50 students attended an alumni conversation on “Careers in Public Policy and Criminal Justice Reform” Nov. 13 at the Gordon Career Center.

Each of the panelists: Sarah Cassel ’13, James Jeter (who earned his degree in 2016 while incarcerated through Wesleyan’s Center for Prison Education), Lexi Jones ’17, Aaron Stagoff-Belfort ’18, and Nina Stender ’16 are working in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York, analyzing and impacting policies dealing with inhumane jail conditions, policing, housing inequality, and issues around incarceration.

Stagoff-Belfort and Jim Kubat, associate director for job and internship development at the Gordon Career Center teamed up to assemble this dynamic panel as part of the career center’s ongoing mission to support students as they transition into the world of work.

“Three things are true,” Kubat explained. “1. There is a broad effort underway by a variety of governmental agencies and nonprofit organizations to reform our criminal justice system through shaping and changing public policy; 2. A Wesleyan education is excellent preparation for public policy work; and 3. Wesleyan alumni are demonstrating points 1 and 2 every day.”

For some students, starting a career in policy work can be daunting. The panelists provided their own perspectives.

Stagoff-Belfort explained, “At Wesleyan, I was surrounded by people passionate about politics, social change, and learning. It completely blindsided me and made me want to educate myself about the things I cared about as much as possible. Wesleyan taught me how to be more skeptical and to ask better questions, think critically and strategically, and write efficiently and effectively, all valuable skills in making and thinking about policy.”

Alumni, Parent Volunteers Sought to Host WEShadow 2020

The Gordon Career Center invites alumni and parents to participate in WEShadow, the winter externship program. In today’s highly competitive employment environment, undergraduates start career planning early and you can make this happen.

The WEShadow Program provides undergraduates with the opportunity to explore careers by “shadowing” a Wes alumna/us or parent during Winter Break. These job shadow opportunities range from observing a professional in a work environment to participating in a specific project within an organization or business. Last year, students benefited from shadow opportunities in various industries, including banking, theater, music, and medicine.

This academic year, WEShadow opportunities will be offered Jan. 6–17, 2020. Students apply specifically to a posted opportunity by Nov. 6. WEShadow volunteers then review and select the candidate(s) of choice.

If you are interested in sponsoring a job shadow experience as a part of the WEShadow Program, register online by Oct. 18.

For more information, contact Anne Santaniello in the Gordon Career Center at 860-685-2180 or via email at asantaniello@wesleyan.edu.

Wesleyan in the News

In this recurring feature in The Wesleyan Connection, we highlight some of the latest news stories about Wesleyan and our alumni.

Recent Wesleyan News

  1. Forbes: “Three Questions to Ask Yourself at the Beginning of Your Career”

Sharon Belden Castonguay, director of the Gordon Career Center, offers career advice for young people just starting out.

2. The Times Literary Supplement: “Multiple Lives”

Hirsh Sawhney, assistant professor of English, coordinator of South Asian studies, explores the “complicated existence” of Mahatma Gandhi.

3. The Washington Post: “The Delight of Being Inconspicuous in a World That’s Always Watching Us”

President Michael Roth reviews a new book, How to Disappear: Notes on Invisibility in a Time of Transparency, by Akiko Busch.

Students Practice Personal Pitches with Alumni Mentors at Connect@Wes

On Feb. 22, 10 alumni and 35 students participated in Connect@Wes 2019 in Beckham Hall. The event serves as a "practice" networking event for Wesleyan students of all class years. 

On Feb. 22, eight alumni and 35 students participated in Connect@Wes 2019 in Beckham Hall. The fifth annual event serves as a practice networking event for Wesleyan students of all class years.

Students rotated through short sessions with alumni mentors in different industries to practice their version of a personal pitch. 

Students rotated through short sessions with alumni mentors in different industries to practice their version of a personal pitch. The mentors used their expertise to critique the pitches and provided advice and insight on how to build a personal network.

Alumni Lead Students on 3-Day Career Trek

During the inaugural New York City Career Trek, hosted by Wesleyan’s Gordon Career Center, several students visited the Lincoln Center Theater to meet with Wesleyan alumni who are active in the theater industry.

Forty-six Wesleyan students interested in finance, journalism, public health, tech, theater, and music had the opportunity to participate in a three-day immersive career exploration program over winter break.

Spearheaded by the Gordon Career Center‘s Winter on Wyllys programming, the inaugural New York City Career Trek, held Jan. 16-18, allowed students to travel to New York City and meet and network with Wesleyan alumni at their places of work.

Industry sites included: Citi and Bloomberg for finance; The New York Times and Hearst Communications for journalism; Atlantic Records and BtOVEN MUSIC for music; Pfizer and the National Hemophilia Foundation for public health; Squarespace and Google for tech; and Lincoln Center Theater and Vineyard Theatre for theater.

Applications for Wesleyan Summer Grants Due Feb. 28

All undergraduates are eligible to apply for a 2019 Wesleyan Summer Grant, which allows students to pursue no- or low-pay career-related summer experiences.

Grant applications must be submitted before midnight on Feb. 28.

Wesleyan Summer Grants are funding resources awarded through the Gordon Career Center. These resources include Wesleyan Summer Experience Grants, Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship Grants, named grants, and others. View all the grant opportunities online here.

To be considered for funding, the summer opportunity should be full-time for a minimum (or the equivalent) of eight weeks. Grant awards typically range between $4,000 and $5,000.

For more information about eligibility, requirements of a particular grant, or the application process, contact Sarah McNamara, associate director for internships and campus recruiting, via email wseg@wesleyan.edu.

Read more about the summer experience grants in this Jan. 28 article in the Wesleyan Argus and in News @ Wesleyan.

Wesleyan in the News

In this recurring feature in The Wesleyan Connection, we highlight some of the latest news stories about Wesleyan and our alumni.

Recent Wesleyan News

  1. Inside Higher Ed: “Career Path Intervention–Via a MOOC”

An open online course by Gordon Career Center Director Sharon Belden Castonguay, which helps young people explore their interests and career options, is featured.

2. NPR: “Midterm Election Could Reshape Health Policy”

Wesleyan in the News

In this recurring feature in The Wesleyan Connection, we highlight some of the latest news stories about Wesleyan and our alumni.

Recent Wesleyan News

  1. Inside Higher Ed: “Career Path Intervention–Via a MOOC”

An open online course by Gordon Career Center Director Sharon Belden Castonguay, which helps young people explore their interests and career options, is featured.

2. NPR“Midterm Election Could Reshape Health Policy”

Associate Professor of Government Erika Franklin Fowler, co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project, explains why Democrats are “laser-focused on health care” this election season. Fowler also recently was quoted on advertising in the midterm elections in The Washington Post and USA Today, and interviewed on NPRMarketplace, and The Takeaway.

3. Religion & Politics“Russia’s Journey from Orthodoxy to Atheism, and Back Again”

Associate Professor of History Victoria Smolkin’s “engaging book is full of striking analysis and counterintuitive insights,” according to this review. The book, A Sacred Space Is Never Empty: A History of Soviet Atheism, was also recently reviewed in Foreign Affairs, while Smolkin, who is also associate professor of Russian, Eastern European, and Eurasian Studies, was quoted in The Washington Post.

4. AnthroBites: “Queer Anthropology”

Margot Weiss, associate professor and chair of anthropology, speaks about the study of queer anthropology in this podcast interview. Weiss is also associate professor, feminist, gender and sexuality studies; associate professor of American studies; and coordinator, queer studies.

5. The Hill: “The Memo: Trump Remark Sparks Debate Over Nationalism”

Colin and Nancy Campbell Professor in Global Issues and Democratic Thought Peter Rutland, who has taught courses on nationalism for 30 years, says it was “surprising” that Trump called himself a nationalist. “The words ‘nationalist’ and ‘nationalism’ are not part of the normal American political vocabulary. It has got very negative connotations.” Rutland is also professor, Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies; professor of government; and director of the Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life.

6. WNYC’s Soundcheck“Composer and Drummer Tyshawn Sorey [MA ’11] Explores Time”

Assistant Professor of Music Tyshawn Sorey performed live, in-studio with his newly formed ensemble that incorporates turntablism, electronics, and spontaneous composition. Sorey is also assistant professor, African American studies.

Recent Alumni News

1. Forbes: This New $100 Million VC Fund Is Looking to Help Crypto Startups Bridge China and Silicon Valley

Alexander Pack ’14 and his new $100 million venture capital fund, Dragonfly Capital Partners, are profiled. With his partner, Bo Feng, Pack will “look to invest in a mix of crypto-first funds, protocols, and applications, as well as tech startups building infrastructure for crypto-driven economies.” The company is also featured in Venturebeat.

2. UMass Med Now: UMMS Alum Raghu Kiran Appasani [’12Addresses UN General Assembly on Global Mental Health

Raghu Kiran Appasani ’12 helped launch the United for Global Mental Health campaign with an event at the United Nations General Assembly cohosted by Appasani, United for Global Health campaign CEO Elisha London, and Cynthia Germanotta of the Born This Way Foundation.

3. XO Necole: “4 Gems ‘Women In Media’ Can Learn From Angela Yee [’97]”

Entrepreneur and radio host Angela Yee ’97 was recently honored by Women In Media during their annual conference. XO Necole celebrates Yee’s “hustle hard” mentality and breaks down 4 “top-notch takeaways” from Yee’s motivational speech.

4. Coronado Eagle & Journal: Documentarian Matt Tyrnauer [’91] To Be Honored With Coronado Film Festival Director Award

Producer/director Matt Tyrnauer ’91 will receive Best Director honors at the Coronado Island Film Festival (Nov. 9-12). His prolific career as a writer and filmmaker is discussed, as is his latest film, Studio 54, which is generating industry-wide Oscar buzz.

5. MariaShriver.com: “Where There Is Anger There Is Hope

Shriver highlights the book by Dr. Helen Riess ’87,The Empathy Effect: 7 Neuroscience-Based Keys for Transforming the Way We Live, Love, Work, Connect Across Differences, as well as The Good Men Project, founded by Tom Matlack ’86, MALS ’87, P’16.