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Ask an Alumni: Jessica Murphy ’10

Jessica Murphy graduated from UBC in 2010 after pursuing a degree in Civil Engineering with a Minor in Commerce – but her current occupation will surprise you!

With the end of the semester fast approaching, and many students reaching the end of a long four years of study, now is the time when we are constantly bombarded with that dreaded question: “What do you plan to do after you graduate?” For a lot of us, the answer remains out of reach. As students, we are constantly being reminded that Bachelor’s degrees just don’t hold the weight they used to in today’s job market.  While that may be the case, students who are able to take advantage of a multitude of opportunities on campus to expand their skill set may find themselves pursuing careers that they never thought possible during their studies. I caught up with 2010 UBC grad Jessica Murphy to discuss how her career plans have changed since her time at university—and why she’s more than okay with it.

Jessica graduated with a degree in Civil Engineering with a Minor in Commerce, and now works in Calgary, Alberta as the director of operations and marketing for Compassionate Beauty, an Oncology Boutique and Spa. Originally intending to use her degree towards pursuing a career in architecture, Jessica’s path post-grad proves that your major alone doesn’t define you in an increasingly diverse job market.

“Compassionate Beauty was founded by my aunt, Saundra Shapiro. During my summers off at UBC, I would often work the front desk at our centre in Calgary. I loved interacting with our clients and helping women find comfort within our doors. The vision of the company speaks to me, which is why after graduating I chose to follow my heart to Compassionate Beauty. “

The company provides products and services such as wigs, mastectomy products, massages and spa treatments. When I asked Jessica about the importance of these aesthetic services for women in treatment, she made it clear that the feeling of normalcy and comfort that Compassionate Beauty hopes to bring to their clients cannot be undervalued.

The welcome reception at Compassionate Beauty

“Women often find that following a diagnosis, they have trouble bridging the gap between their medical appointments and their day-to-day routine – that is the need we aim to serve for our clientele. We strive to respect the way in which each woman approaches her cancer journey. So if that means that a mum with young kids never wants to be bald at home, we will find the right solutions for her. If a woman wants to continue wearing sexy lingerie, we will re-create her lingerie drawer. We want mum to go home to her kids looking like mum, and a woman to go home to her spouse feeling confident. “

The passion that Jessica brings to her work springs from a long-time commitment to caring for others in the community. “I have been fortunate to be raised in a family that places a high importance on philanthropy, and I have carried this with me into my adult life.” Jessica’s interest in philanthropy was heightened during her time at UBC, years that she believes “helped solidify my life priorities.” Despite the massive shift she experienced from studying civil engineering to working in marketing, Jessica still credits her time at university with providing a platform for her to explore her interests and guiding her onto her current career path. 

“I was fortunate to be involved in many exciting organizations at UBC including taking active roles within the Alpha Gamma Delta sorority, Engineers without Borders, and JV Field Hockey. Through my roles as President, VP Scholarship, and Philanthropy coordinator, Alpha Gam allowed me to develop my leadership and project management skills which have translated well into my role at Compassionate Beauty. ”

“I have been with the company for two years now and love my involvement here. I have also been surprised at the times I’ve been able to use my engineering skills within my role – helping design floor plans for new centres and liaising with contractors for centre build outs. Engineering is also a great degree to exercise and sharpen your problem solving and analytical skills.”

For those on the verge of graduation, Jessica serves as a stunning example of someone who has developed skills both inside and outside of the classroom and applied them to something that is truly close to her heart. Not only has she translated her degree into a career that she is passionate about, she has also made the choice to dedicate her skills to caring for the women in her community in a way that is often overlooked.

“To-date, we are the only centre of our kind that specialises in cancer. We strive to respect the way in which each woman approaches her cancer journey. When she first enters our store, she becomes a part of our Compassionate Beauty family. As her needs change and adapt, she will get to know all of our staff through her time with us.”

As for her advice for up-and-coming graduates:

“Get involved! Get involved in organizations that challenge you or that you can grow and learn from. For me, the sorority was the perfect place to take part in activities that ranged from athletics to social to philanthropic. It really provided me with a great foundation to continue to live a well-balanced life.”

For more information on Compassionate Beauty and their goals and mission, visit their website: www.compassionatebeauty.com 

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