For those who don’t know, I went to Northeastern Unversity (Go Huskies, Go NU) for my physical therapy degree. As a side note, I was in the Honors program and graduated Cum Laude, nbd 😉 I am quite proud of this accomplishment and miss my college years. I worked very hard, played a little bit harder but always maintained my grades and achieved a quite successful career due to my education at my alma mater.
Having lived close by to the school during my Boston days, it is a shame I didn’t get over to the school more often, but I guess it would be off-putting for students to see a mid-30-year-old hanging out at Punter’s Pub, Conor Larkin’s or Our House East. I miss those $2 Brubakers haha, not.
But I digress…I was contacted by the organizer of the NU Honors Progam who was putting together a group of alumni panelists to provide advice to 50 or so honors program undergrads nearing graduation. The purpose was to connect former with current and provide insight and experience in a somewhat stressful time in life. (Ha just wait, kids as they are really just kids or more due to the fact that I am 14 years older.
Anyway I was asked if I would be willing to be 1 of 4 panelists to talk about my experiences. Who knows why I was asked but of course I was completely honored and accepted without giving much thought to the whole public speaking aspect. I was provided with some prepared questions and I was given specifically the topic on “Transitioning from University Life” while other topics included, “Balancing School, Work, and other Priorities”, “Cultivating and Maintaining Professional Relationships”, and “Mentorship and its Benefits” with all the participants engaging in “Making Important Decisions”.
I prepped for the week and felt quite comfortable because essentially I was going to be just talking about myself. I like to do that, who knew? Ha. Then I arrived in the beautiful Alumni Center Pavilion, which to me was brand new with a modern lounge that I felt like I could enjoy thoroughly as I learned they have monthly wine social. But then it hit me when I saw the size of the hall. I have to speak and give sound advice to the next working generation, out loud? Who was I to be this person? Needless to say the nerves started to kick in, wishing there was a bottle of wine nearby I realized most of these students probably weren’t even of drinking age, so alas I had to present sans alcohol so I got some tea and relaxed in the lounge with the other panelists.
It was moderated by an alum mechanical engineer. The other panelists included 2 social workers; one, a mother of 2, for the 2nd largest kidney dialysis groups in the country and the other who started as a web designer and changed careers to work in an acute psychology ward and at the same time works on rehabilitation of incarcerated inmates. The other, a father of 3, is a renowned federal prosecutor (he locks up white-collar criminals). Then there was little old me…a physical therapy supervisor to 15 staff members and an orthopedic specialized therapist. But what kind of experience could I lend to some of the students I met, most in neuroscience, biology, public health, pre-law, pre-med, I mean these were super-smart kids.
I basically talked about how my final year at Northeastern was my 5th-year master’s program where I had to complete 3, 8-week clinicals. I was on 2 paths I could go down, continue onto graduate school to obtain my Doctorate or work. Side note: my class was the last to get their Master’s, the following NUPT class was getting their doctorate. Thanks for that NU (shaking my head). I opted to work – I’ve always been a diligent worker starting at the age of 13 for my family’s limo company by cleaning cars, to working as a parking attendant at Great Woods concert venue in high school then as a personal trainer and in retail throughout college and of course, Co-oP. If you are unaware, Northeastern is a school in which participated in cooperative education, where you study and then work in the field every other semester.
During my last year, I had to think about where I wanted to work, what setting, who I was going to live with, setting up and preparing for interviews, learning to negotiate and determining what benefits I was looking for all while working a full-time clinical and getting graded on it. After narrowing that all down, I ended up at my first job with Marathon Physical Therapy 5 minutes from my parents’ home. The reason I chose this position out of the 6 or so interviews I went on was following my niche for sports, as I had the opportunity to branch out with other wellness programs such as Pilates, massage, and sport conditioning classes, and additionally, there would be an opportunity for growth as well as receiving great benefits. They actually contributed to continuing education which would allow me to go back to get my doctorate part-time (graduating with my DPT 2 years later). Luckily for me, I was their first PT hire and I watched as over the next 5 years the company opened 3 more locations, hiring over 25 more clinicians and becoming one of the top-notch private orthopedic clinics around the state and in doing so I was able to move up the managerial ladder in that short time frame. I couldn’t have been more proud of my decision as a new graduate. Though I was making slightly less than peers in the city and living at home at first, thinking I would save money (I didn’t) I could have chosen other venues thinking I could make it all on my own but it doesn’t mean I would necessarily be happy. So I told the kids, take advice, listen to it, absorb it, but at the end of the day you are the one who has to live with the choice you make, so stick with your gut.
I then laughed and said I’m leaving my current field to move to Europe. Hey, even as we age we always have to listen to our heart! Right?!
So overall the evening was successful, I met some interesting, talented and bright youth and peers and am hopeful for our future when I engage with people like that from this experience. Bravo NU!
P.S. Got some super cute swag, so it was definitely worth it 😋