HC George Mason Alum: Where Are They Now?

Juliane Veloso, B.S. in Marketing

Amanda Snead: What have you been up to since graduating?

Juliane Veloso: Mostly work and traveling. I'm a Content Strategist at Deloitte Digital. I lead content strategy workstreams for federal and state government website redesigns. I've also done some SEO strategy consulting on the commercial side. Outside of work, I love to travel. A few places I've been to after graduation include Italy, the Philippines, Taiwan, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York. Oh, and I went to Napa Valley once and then all of a sudden became a wine-o.

AS: What are some skills you learned during your time with HC that you have carried on with you?

JV: I learned how to produce quality work with quick turnarounds. When I was writing for the Entertainment and News sections of the HC national site, I would sometimes turn around two to three articles in a two hour timeframe. In both entertainment and news, you have to be timely and also find a way to differentiate your writing, as HC likely isn't the only publication covering that topic or news. Similarly, the consulting space, especially the Big 4, is very fast-paced. You really have to know your product forwards and backwards, know how to present your thoughts and work precisely and clearly, be able to think on your feet, and be ready for things to change at any moment.

AS: What is one piece of advice that you would give your undergrad self? 

JV: Take every chance that you can to go abroad. I love learning about other cultures, and what better way than to visit a foreign country and immerse yourself in the culture. While I did go on a mission trip to Peru my junior year of college, I didn’t study abroad in undergrad. Mason has a ton of great study abroad trips, and I wish I went on one.

AS: What is one piece of advice you would give current undergrads?

JV: Be open to the path ahead of you. I went into college thinking I was going to be an accounting major and become a Certified Public Accountant. Then I realized after taking Financial Accounting that this wasn't what I wanted to do with my life. But after taking my Principles of Marketing course, I knew I wanted to go into marketing and pursued that. Now I'm working in content strategy at the largest professional services firm in the world.

AS: What is the most rewarding thing about your job? What is the most challenging?

JV: I’m honored that I get to use my digital marketing expertise to help the federal and state governments think through their digital customer experiences. The work I do helps these agencies serve their missions, which is so rewarding. On the flip side, I think one of the most challenging parts of my job can be working on a team with people across different time zones. For me, sometimes that looks like having calls really early or really late. But, I do my best to balance things out. Say I have to stay late for a call at 7:00pm. Then, I’ll probably go in later or get off earlier the next day.

AS: What is the hardest thing about “adulting” for you and how do you deal with it?

JV: There are a bunch of memes about adding things to your cart when stressed, and I’m totally guilty of that. Sometimes when I’m anxious and can’t fall asleep, I find myself surfing the web. Next thing you know, there are five things in my cart and I’m about to checkout. But in all seriousness, I go to therapy at least once a month for my anxiety, sometimes more during more stressful times in my life. It really helps to work through my anxiety with a professional.

AS: How do you practice self-care?

JV: By getting to know myself, doing what I need to do to nourish my mind and body, and setting boundaries. I strive to deliver exceptional work to my clients without making my life revolve around work. I workout at least three times a week. I connect with my family and at least one friend every day.  And, I try to say no to things that aren't going to bring me to be the best version of myself. 

AS: Who is your role model and why? 

JV: My big sister Helen is my role model. She's one of the most brave, courageous, and patient people I know. She took a leap of faith and moved from the Philippines to London this month. Now, she's a nurse in London fighting at the frontlines to save coronavirus patients. She has a huge heart for helping others, and I really look up to her for that.

Keep up with all of the amazing things Juliane is up to by following her on Instagram: @julianemariev

 

Molly Feser, B.A. in Communication with a concentration in journalism

Amanda Snead: What have you been up to since graduation?

Molly Feser: I am in the Broadcast Journalism and Public Affairs graduate program at American University. I will graduate this summer with my Master's.

AS: What are some skills you learned during your time with HC that you have carried on with you?

MF: HC taught me so many things, but I especially learned networking skills (meeting new people, getting other opportunities or positions through those people), and really getting to hone my creative skills. I wasn't really used to writing creative pieces before, so I think being able to be funny and personal with my stories really allowed me to be more confident with my writing. 

AS: What is one piece of advice that you would give your undergrad self?

MF: Join everything as soon as you can! I was part of a lot of great organizations on campus, but some of them I wish I had joined the first year I was there - like HC and Student Media - so I could have had more time and experience with them. 

AS: What is one piece of advice you would give current undergrads?

MF: Take as many opportunities as possible! Sometimes it's easier to not go for something because you feel like you may not be good enough for it, but learning is all part of the experience. Apply for that internship, join that club! Even if you don't feel like you know what you're doing, it will only pay off in the long run to gain as much experience as possible. 

AS: What is the most rewarding thing about grad school? What is the most challenging?

MF: EVERYTHING about my program is challenging! It's hard work and often stressful. I'm naturally kind of a shy person, so being a journalist and having to put myself out there can be tough, but also a great learning experience. I would say the most rewarding is seeing my final products after working hard on them. My broadcast program does a newscast every Tuesday and unfortunately since we're online now, we've really had to get creative with putting these newscasts together when we're all in different places. But seeing how we're able to come together and still somehow pull them off and make them look good is just so rewarding and makes me proud of our team. 

AS: What is the hardest thing about “adulting” for you and how do you deal with it?

MF: I still don't know if I'm very good at it! The hardest thing is just being responsible for myself and making phone calls that I've always been used to my parents making. But I also like being independent, so there are benefits. 

AS: How do you practice self-care?

MF: After a long day of being around people I like to just be by myself, relax, watch Netflix or listen to music, and just kind of do things that make me happy. 

AS: Who is your role model and why?

MF: I have so many role models, it's hard to pick just one! But I really look up to people who are kind, smart, and ambitious.

Want to keep up with Molly? You can find her on Instagram and Twitter at @molly_feser!

Nancy Nyamaa, B.A. in Communication with a concentration in journalism

Amanda Snead: What have you been up to since graduation?

Nancy Nyamaa: I spent a few months job hunting and eventually landed a great job as an editor at a marketing company. I work with a big team and edit prints, digital campaigns, and deploy emails for our clients.

AS: What are some skills you learned during your time with HC that you have carried on with you? 

NN: I gained a lot of skills in editorial and marketing that I would not have been able to get anywhere else. I was lucky enough to be a CC [Campus Correspondent] and CA [Chapter Advisor] through my years in college and learned to be a leader and polished up my skills in editing/organization.

AS: What is one piece of advice that you would give your undergrad self?

NN: Be less afraid of rejection. I let the fear of being rejected from jobs and internships get in my way a lot. So much that I would often talk myself out of ever applying to them! I think about the opportunities I missed out on just by being too afraid to be told no, and I feel so silly. You’ll hear “no” a lot in life, so don’t be scared because when it’s finally a “yes,” everything you did to go out on a limb will have been worth it!

AS: What is one piece of advice you would give current undergrads? NN: When looking for a job or internship, learn to market the skills you have already. You’ll spend a lifetime wondering what you could do better, get better at, and how to compete. While those thoughts are important, I think it’s also really crucial to learn how to sell the skills you have already. You’ll gain more confidence in yourself by sprucing up your resume to reflect what you already have under your belt, and recruiters can sense that confidence a lot of the time. 

AS: What is the most rewarding thing about your job? What is the most challenging? 

NN: The most rewarding thing about my job is seeing our clients thrive through the work we do—the payoff. We’ve been rolling out a lot of new campaigns and knowing my job played a part in that success is great! I feel like everything I worked for in college is paying off in this job, and I feel lucky to say that. The most challenging part is definitely working through the busy times and staying on top of my work by myself. My job has a lot of moving parts sometimes so staying on top of my share of work is a challenge sometimes when we are slammed.

AS: What is the hardest thing about “adulting” for you and how do you deal with it?

NN: For me, the toughest thing about adulting is financing and being responsible with money. With a shiny new job came taxes, insurance, car payments, and building credit. I am working on learning how to budget better because it’s not a joke! I learned that real fast and now I have to talk myself out of impulse purchases at Home Goods…

AS: How do you practice self-care?

NN: I try to find time to do things just for me. I carve out time between my busy schedule to bake treats, catch up on my podcasts, and go to the gym. Working out has become my favorite thing over the last few months and every weekend I take spin classes. The classes and gym membership are pricey, but I consider them to be self-care and a gift to myself. I go into the week feeling so fresh and I think that’s what’s important: I am finding time to do things that help me physically and mentally, and I don’t beat myself up if I don’t make it every week because after all, I’m doing it for me! 

AS: Who is your role model and why?

NN: I learned from Her Campus that great role models are often women in leadership positions. I would 100% say my current boss, Christine, is my role model right now. She single-handedly runs a big department at our company and is in charge of a lot of moving parts. She is tough when she needs to be, but is overall one of the most pleasant people I have met. She gives me a lot to look forward to in my career and I hope to be the girl boss she is one day!  You can see what else Nancy has been up to in her post-grad life on Instagram and LinkedIn!

Alexis Whitted, B.A. in Communication with a concentration in Media Production and Criticism

Amanda Snead: What have you been up to since graduation?

Alexis Whitted: After graduation, I moved to Orlando, Florida and participated in the Disney College Program for Spring 2019. After my program ended I decided to go full-time with The Walt Disney Company as a lifeguard at Art of Animation, a resort on property at Walt Disney World. After about a month of lifeguarding, I went to an audition for character performers and was able to transfer to entertainment in July 2019! Achieving that goal was a dream come true for me and I am so grateful that I was in the right place at the right time for that to happen. I also started my master's degree online at the University of Florida in August and I am set to graduate this December!

AS: What are some skills you learned during your time with HC that you have carried on with you?

AW: There isn't a lot that I do in my current position that I could compare to what I did in Her Campus. However, really honing in on my time management skills with our strict deadlines is a skill that I will always be grateful to Her Campus for. Being a full-time employee (many times working 50 hours a week) and a full-time student has its challenges, but using my downtime at work wisely and planning for when assignments are due is what really helps me.

AS: What is one piece of advice that you would give your undergrad self? AW: One piece of advice that I would give my undergrad self would be to stand up for yourself. Looking back, I was tolerating multiple "friendships" with others that constantly made me feel less than and would regularly pick on me because I was an easy targeted or that's how they "showed love." Thankfully, I do not engage with these people anymore. I have realized that my female friendships are so incredibly important to me (one of the reasons I love HC so much) and I want to make sure those relationships are mutually beneficial, nourishing, and encouraging. Of course, there is always space to challenge each other, but maliciousness is not an option. One of my favorite bloggers/podcasters is constantly reminding her audience "You don't have to be friends with people who are mean to you." It seems so simple, but it's easy to forget. 

AS: What is one piece of advice you would give current undergrads?

AW: It may be crazy to think about- but if you have student loans, start paying them back NOW. (or just do your best to take out as little money as possible) Even if it's simply $50 a month to keep the interest down. I am doing my best to focus on paying back my first loan this year so I can get my debt snowball rolling and be debt-free by 30. Make sure to incorporate healthy financial habits and a budget now so that you are already set up for success when you get that first "big girl job." You can do it, I believe in you.

AS: What is the most rewarding thing about your job and grad school? What is the most challenging?

AW: Obviously I have a super unique job and I am so grateful that I get to do what I do every day, as it's something I've dreamed about since I was in elementary school. The most rewarding part of my job is simply getting the opportunity to make magic for so many children- and kids at heart- every single day. There are still moments where I get tired and annoyed, like any job, but I remind myself how much Disney means to the guests that visit us and it helps me to keep that magic alive. For my grad school program,  it is super rewarding creatively as I am sometimes making images or graphics on Photoshop that I never even thought I would be able to! Just a few months ago I was terrified to even open the software and now I feel like a genius! (Though I am definitely still a beginner)

AS: What is the hardest thing about “adulting” for you and how do you deal with it? AW: When I first finished my college program (because I see it almost as an extension of my college experience), I was having a hard time making new friends. It was like I completely forgot how to ask someone to hang out or something, I felt so helpless. I am so grateful that I have felt so much more comfortable at work and church with the community I have chosen to surround myself with. Due to the nature of my job, I have not been able to go home for holidays but I was so excited to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with my lovely friends and work-family. I think now the most frustrating part about "adulting" is wanting to drop everything and go on some month-long adventure around the world but not having the PTO or budget to do so. (Also it's obviously even more restricting and frustrating now that it's not quite safe to go anywhere).

AS: How do you practice self-care?

AW: The main way I practice self-care is leaning into my faith by reading the Bible, meditating, and having prayer and journal time every morning and evening. It helps me to stay grounded and focused on what my values are and what I can be grateful for every day- even if that is simply hot sauce, running water, and the Cheetah Girls (an example from last week hehe). I also am pretty intentional about running four times a week and doing yoga or just a few stretches every day. It always helps to get that heart rate up and produce some endorphins. 

AS: Who is your role model and why? 

AW: It seems so obvious, but Oprah Winfrey has always been a huge influence and role model on my life. I have always admired how incredibly hard-working and I can see myself becoming a similar multimedia mogul- so watch out. I love how spiritually connected she is and the generous spirit she brings to this world. Also- she still always makes time for silliness. 

You can keep up with Alexis’ life in Orlando by finding her on Instagram and Twitter: @alexis_whitted! 

Holly Rhue, B.A. in English with a concentration in Creative Writing

Amanda Snead: What have you been up to since graduation?

Holly Rhue: Two weeks after graduation I made the scary (but exciting) decision to accept a job with ELLE Magazine and move to New York City! I worked there for a year and held two different positions--Editorial Fellow and then Nights & Weekends News Editor--before moving on to a brief stint in branded content on the Her Campus national team. Currently, I'm the Associate Editor at Byrdie where I test the latest beauty product launches, review the best spa treatments, try the latest wellness crazes, and basically live the dream with the best editorial team on the planet! 

AS: What are some skills you learned during your time with HC that you have carried on with you? HR: Learning how to use analytics monitoring platforms like Google Analytics to inform editorial decisions. I use GA every single day in the ~real world~.

AS: What is one piece of advice that you would give your undergrad self? 

HR: Breathe! I feel like I barrelled through my college experience so quickly by making sure I had an internship every single semester. If I could repeat my Mason experience, I'd slow things down a bit and just enjoy college life. 

AS: What is one piece of advice you would give current undergrads?

HR: Connections are everything. It's so hard to sell yourself on paper, especially if you've never had an internship or job before. Nailing that dream gig is so much easier if you have someone else in that industry to guide you and champion for you. If you've never had an internship and you need an in, just reach out to someone you admire in the industry and ask them if you can treat them to coffee so you can ask them about their career path (this is usually called an "informational interview"). People are usually so flattered that you care about their impact on the industry that they're more than willing to meet up. 

AS: What is the most rewarding thing about your job? What is the most challenging?

HR: Rewarding: Connecting women through stories about beauty, mental health, and physical wellness.

Challenging: Showing the world that beauty goes far beyond the superficial level that people usually associate with the industry. A lot of my friends will jokingly say I test lipsticks for a living, which *is* partially true, but it's so much more than that! It can be exhausting to keep explaining to people (men) what beauty means to so many people--it's a multi-billion dollar industry after all.

AS: What is the hardest thing about “adulting” for you and how do you deal with it?

HR: I'm living in New York City, but my family and most of my friends live in my hometown: Virginia Beach. Sometimes it's really tough to be away from them--I missed out on my little brother getting his first car, my Mom pursuing a brand new career at age 50, morning snuggles with my dog, and so much more. Those sound like little things, but every once and awhile the little things accumulate and feel like a really big thing. New York is amazing though, and if you want to learn, grow up, and start thriving 5x faster than you would anywhere else, it's here. 

AS: How do you practice self care?

HR: I dedicate two nights a week to *me time.* I decide which nights these will be at the beginning of the week, and then I reject any work or social plans that might come up during those windows. Even if it's a brand I'm dying to meet with, I'll ask them if we can do it another night, because I can't pour from an empty cup! These two nights are my time to recharge my battery with a book and a glass of wine. 

AS: Who is your role model and why? 

HR: My boss--the editorial director for the DotDash Beauty & Style Group (Byrdie and Brides)--Elspeth Velten. To put it simply, she sees when something needs to get done and then she gets it done! She's whip-smart and lovely to work with. 

Follow along with Holly’s adventures in NYC by following her on Instagram-- @hollyrhue

I want to give a HUGE thank you to all of these amazing ladies for taking time out of their bust schedules to chat with me. They all inspire me everyday and I hope their stories do the same for you.