Editor’s Note: Katie Lansing was there at the beginning: when the Lesley Public Post published for the first time in 2010, she served as our first editor, and she did a commendable job. Since she graduated, she has been working in France, and she filed this update about what has happened since she got her degree:
My name is Katie Lansing: I am an Alumna of Lesley University, as well as the first editor in chief of the Lesley Public Post. I graduated in 2012 with a Bachelor’s degree in Global Studies and a lot of anticipation for what was to come. I remember walking back from Porter Square that spring, down Mass Avenue, holding my newly bought cap and gown. I felt nervous, excited, and sad. An important chapter of my life was closing and I was about to leap out of the Academic Cambridge bubble and into the working world. A part of me felt like the gun had just gone off, signaling the start of a lifelong race.
After graduation, I moved back to France, my home country. I spent the next five months looking for a decent job in Paris. I had learned how bad the economy was in school, though it wasn’t until I started applying for jobs that I really understood what that meant. I wasn’t expecting to get a dream job right out of college, but another unpaid internship wasn’t what I had in mind either. Yet that was all I could find. I spent every day from June to October cruising the internet for ads, tweaking my resume, and writing cover letters. In those moments, I was very grateful for the training I received my Senior year at Lesley in how to fill out job applications. Still, it was hard. In order to write a good cover letter you need to convince yourself that this is the perfect job for you and you are the perfect candidate for it or you won’t convince anyone else. I got excited about and visualized myself in every one of the dozens and dozens of jobs and internships I applied for, and most of the time I didn’t even get a reply.
Finally, I was called in for an interview in November for a company called International SOS. It was a medical assistance company that helped global private organizations, NGO’s, and public factions with medical and security assistance. In short, it was an International 911 with alarm centers all over the world. They needed an operations coordinator for medical emergencies in the Central and Northern African region. They were looking for someone who was bilingual and had traveled (I had the Lesley Study abroad program to thank for that). I remember sitting in the reception area, waiting for my interview, and I was petrified. I really wanted this job but there were other candidates twice my age and with master’s degrees sitting there with me. If I can give some advice about preparing interviews, (and no, ’winging it’ is not an option), it is to list what you want the interviewer to know about you, practice saying it, and look at common interview questions for ways you can slip that information in. This way, if you’re like me and sitting in front of smug looking suit, so terrified that your mind has gone blank, it’s okay, because you don’t have to be brilliant; you just need to recite the brilliant things you’ve already practiced.
Four interviews and a personality assessment later, I had the job. For the next year and a half I worked with doctors, nurses, and other coordinators logistically organizing emergency medical evacuations out of Africa. We worked for companies from all over the world, like Nestlé, Doctors without Borders, the Israeli Government etc. I loved my job: I logistically organized ground ambulances, air ambulances, and helicopters according the medical emergency. I determined secure evacuation routes, chased insurance companies, haggled with frontier police, and reassured patient’s family members.
I learned some very important lessons while I was there, the first being humility. When you make a mistake in the workplace, even if it’s not your fault, you are not expected to waste time explaining it, but to fix it. The second is that relationships with co-workers do matter. Understanding how others work and making an effort to maintain a positive environment really does make a huge difference. The third is that the more seriously you take your job the more seriously others will take you.
Equipped with this experience, I intend to go back to school for a master’s degree in Diplomacy. Someday I hope to work as a communications liaison during crisis situations. I recently returned to Boston for the first time in two years and took a nostalgic walk around Lesley campus. Though the four years I spent there seem like an entirely different life now, I know that they were incredibly formative. They were the years I spent training for the race; the lifelong marathon I am still running.