Spring 2014

Where Everybody Knows Your Name

Moving to Boston after graduation, these recent graduates sum up why the city is a great next step

After professional stops in Holyoke, Mass. and New York City, I finally landed in Boston for good in 2001, five years after my graduation from Saint Michael's. The city wasn't foreign by any means. I grew up here, 50 miles to the south down Route 24, in the small town of Assonet, where I longed to one day roam the halls of the Boston Globe newsroom and see just what was behind that door in left field at Fenway Park.

I've been lucky enough to do both at various points in my journalistic career, possessing an enviable office at Fenway when I worked for the New England Sports Network more than a decade ago, and witnessing the changing landscape of print and digital media during my 10 years at the Globe and Boston.com, where the various hats I wear, from covering travel to sports to skiing, create a certain kaleidoscope of details that defines what makes New England the best region in the country.

Naturally there have been moments of wondering if drastic change was needed. I've always maintained that the only other two cities I've visited that I would consider planting roots are Denver and San Francisco, partly because two of my closest friends from St. Mike's had moved to each city in the years following graduation. But it's also no secret that both cities share certain similarities to Boston. Both are rampant with East Coast transplants. Both boast a mindset of urban progression, active lifestyles, and premium culinary and craft brewing scenes. But Boston wins not only because of its rich place in American history, but because of the community bred here thanks to its relative proximity to a place like St. Mike's.

Strong ties that students nurture in Winooski Park follow them to Boston, where that extension of St. Mike's community continues.
Boston is a vibrant city, one that has undergone impressive change and growth over the past decade-and-a-half. For all its faults, the Big Dig opened up the downtown area, creating a waterfront scene that utilizes the harbor in ways never thought possible before.The Seaport neighborhood has become one of the city's most lively, with an impressive array of fine dining and nightlife where once nobody ventured aside from summertime concerts. Even Kenmore Square and the area surrounding Fenway Park, once notable for their grittiness, have been revitalized with a modern nod.

Civic pride is one thing, but for young professionals, there are few better places to begin a career. Many graduates will find that strong ties that students nurture during their four years at Winooski Park will follow them to Boston, where that extension of the St. Mike's community continues to strengthen. There is a strong,diverse alumni based here, willing to offer career advice in a variety of fields, and the young energy that a collegiate city like Boston boasts can be wildly intoxicating.

It can be a challenging job market, but what city in the Northeast can't make that claim? The traffic can be mind-numbing, rent can be expensive, and don't even mention the Red Sox after that season. But one of the characteristics that makes St. Mike's so special is the friendships and bonds created there. I've been lucky to call alumni members colleagues, and many members of my graduating class remain my closest and dearest friends. I even managed to convince one of them, Kathleen Karcher, to marry me.

Boston is home for many reasons, but the aura of Winooski Park and that unique benefit of being in a tight-knit community creates a level of trust difficult to imagine at many other colleges and universities. Whether it's via an alumni event, a networking seminar, or just dinner with a fellow graduate, it enhances the Boston experience greatly. The city is an easy place to fall in love with, on a much smaller scale than New York or Chicago, which adds to its accessibility. It can be easier to forge relationships, both professional and personal,because of that same reason. It's home to world-class sports, culture, medicine, and more, diverse fields that welcome all areas of concentration. Just don't call it "Beantown" (nobody north of Manhattan does) and you'll fit in fine. - Eric Wilbur '06

Leah O'Brien '08

leah o'brienI live on Beacon Hill in Boston and I'm the marketing manager for Boston magazine. I'm responsible for creating, managing and executing special events and programs, keeping in mind our publisher's brand but also creating custom programs for our clients with their brands in mind—everyone from JetBlue to Infiniti to BMW.

St. Mike's gave me a great education and I have an amazing network here in Boston. There are so many alumni here. I still see some of my former roommates all the time. I lived with a close group of girlfriends senior year and we still talk together on a daily basis. Whenever there's a Saint Michael's alumni event, I try to go.

A lot of things I did in college are relevant to my work now. Laying out the yearbook as yearbook editor is quite similar to laying out a magazine. My English theory classes have a lot to do with what I do as an events planner now, because they were about coming up with good ideas. At the time I didn't know what I would be doing for a career, but it was valuable preparation in being challenged to think creatively.

I grew up in Danvers, Massachusetts, and spent a lot of time figure skating, so I often would go up to Vermont for a competition, starting about age seven or eight. And I really fell in love with the area—everything from mountains to the lakes to the people. St. Mike's is the only place I applied to in Vermont—all the rest were out west or down south— but I went up there and fell in love with St. Mike's too. I'm a skier and I always got the Smuggs pass. But my favorite was the Cultural Pass. We went to lots of performances and we loved it.

At St. Mike's you have so many opportunities to develop who you are as a person, to experience so many other things. I had a Little Sister through MOVE, I worked with Habitat for Humanity, and I loved the Wilderness Program. I went ice climbing and kayaking, whitewater rafting. Now I've started paddle-boarding and I still hike and ski. My time there started good habits and hobbies for later life. St. Mike's puts in front of you. When else in your life will it be your normal routine to see fantastic shows, go ice climbing and sit around and talk about literature?

Joe Maher III '07

joe maher iiiI work for Fidelity Charitable, the largest donor-advised fund in the country. I'm on the service team here and I help manage our highest-worth network clients.

I was a business major at Saint Michael's. I wanted to do something on the honorable side, so the philanthropic side of this job appealed to me. My high school, Boston College High, taught me to be a hard worker, but Saint Michael's taught me to translate that into something useful for myself and for others.

Our office is in the World Trade Center in downtown Boston, and my job is helping clients in any way I can: answering questions, assisting with transactions, helping create a philanthropic plan.

I loved my liberal arts classes because they gave me a well-rounded background, especially going into something like philanthropy, which encompasses a lot of arts and sciences, education and religion.

My late father was a St. Mike's alumnus: Joseph James Maher, Jr., Class of 1969. My younger sister Anne also graduated in 2009 and now works at McLean Hospital doing hospital social work and counseling.

My dad was a lawyer—general counsel for an insurance firm—so clearly he took his Saint Michael's degree and made something of it. Now that's what I'm trying to do.

Jason Maguire '08

jason maguireI'm the manager of Clambakes, Etc. on Cape Cod, where I grew up. It's the catering division of Osterville Fish, a local fresh fish market and seafood restaurant.

A lot of what I do now is sales. If you call Clambakes Etc., you get my smiley voice on the phone. My St. Mike's experiences really helped me talk to people with confidence, in a manner so that they can respect what I do and the company on the whole.

For me it was great to get off the flat land of Cape Cod for a while and see the mountains. We also went down to the lake all the time. In high school I developed a liking for whitewater kayaking and I wish now I'd taken more advantage of the great Wilderness Program at St. Mike's, but I still took my kayak up there and went to the lake and fooled around in the water. I was a history major, and took all of George Dameron's classes. My senior thesis was on the Black Death in Ireland.

Part of my business is due to Saint Michael's connections and I have lots of alumni and faculty that I cater events for. While you're there, you're in a close community, and it doesn't end after you leave. Some of my St. Mike's friends work with me as part-timers on weekends when we do most of our business.

My feeling is, whatever you do when you're out of college, if it makes you happy, keep doing it no matter what other people think. At first my parents wondered about my career decision, but I really enjoyed it and could see it being a successful businessit and could see it being a successful business down the road. Now we're doing very well: I bought my own home in Sandwich and I have time off in the winter! I'm happy, that's for sure, so I guess that's the important thing.

Craig Duffy '06

craig duffyI think a lot of people would tell you they appreciated the community and friends they made at Saint Michael's and I certainly did too, but looking back six years after graduation, I appreciate the academic experience even more now. I feel it was pretty holistic and gave me more of a big picture than I expected and definitely opened my eyes to new ideas and different ways of thinking.

I started a new job last October working for Biogen Idec, a biotech company based in Cambridge, MA. We basically make and research and distribute drugs in the niche area of treating Multiple Sclerosis along with ALS or Lou Gehrig's Disease and we have a hemophiliac division as well.

I'm in charge of managing the drug supply and logistics for our clinical trial sites all over the world: maybe sites will call in about drugs shipped in insulated boxes with temperature monitors indicating it went out of the acceptable range, meaning it's not safe to use, so I have to make sure we get that drug to the UK from Italy in one day, which means a lot of scrambling! And when I don't have delivery emergencies I'm planning inventories to be sure we're meeting clinical trial dosing schedules on time.

I use my Spanish in my job, which is great. Being a Spanish major, I had the opportunity to do a full academic year abroad, spending my whole junior year in Spain. That combined with the academic experience of studying different languages opened my eyes to being more culturally sensitive.

I always say you don't have to be business major to work in a corporate setting, and I'm an example of that. As a student I often got questions like, "what are you going to do if you're not a teacher?" but I'm an example of the other opportunities out there. At first I was exploring whatever first job might be a good fit and I worked for a small logistics company, import-export type things, and so was able to use Spanish there too.

I'm originally from the Boston suburbs and I always liked that Saint Michael's campus was far enough away that felt I was going away for school, but close enough to get home easily on a long weekend. I loved going to college in Vermont. You have Burlington a few minutes away, a view of Mount Mansfield from campus, plus Lake Champlain is great to walk around and the area offers everything "urban" you're looking forward to as a college student without feeling lost. So it's the best of both worlds: sort of a city environment, but you have a nice rural feel around campus too. I like to go to Vermont at least once a year just to visit since I've been to school there and I'll walk around campus and enjoy some nostalgia.

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