Molly (Goodwin) Zaentz ’09

JOB TITLE: Program director
ORGANIZATION: Family Foundation
LOCATION: New York City
GRADUATE DEGREE: M.P.A., New York University Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service

 

What was your first position after college? My first position was as a development assistant at UJA-Federation of New York. I applied to the position online and was invited to participate in several rounds of interviews.

Has a liberal arts education helped you in shaping your career? Definitely! I use writing and research skills that I learned at Trinity every day. My job involves talking to lots of different people from around the country and overseas, so the verbal and written communications skills I honed are definitely useful. At Trinity, I enjoyed taking classes in various academic fields, studying abroad in Paris, and being involved in many extracurricular activities. In my current role, I love having the opportunity to gain experience in a variety of nonprofit fields and to learn from the experiences and perspectives of philanthropists with a range of backgrounds.

What aspects of your Trinity experience have been important to advancing your career or graduate school experience? My experience as a leader in Hillel inspired me to pursue a career in Jewish communal service. I use the skills I learned as the board president and as a current Hillel advisory board member every day. Working as a senior admissions associate also helped me to realize how much I love working with lots of different people. It inspired me to look at fundraising positions when I graduated, and I think I might want to work in an admissions office at some point in my career.

Finally, my American studies major taught me critical writing and communications skills that I use when I write e-mails and reports, give board presentations, and speak up during strategic meetings. Trinity’s academic rigor taught me time management and organizational skills. Perhaps most importantly, my academic experiences at Trinity taught me to love learning in a way I never could have imagined during high school. My favorite American studies course was about autobiographies. I also loved learning about our nation’s forefathers while studying abroad in Paris. I approach new challenges in my career in the same way I approached assignments at Trinity: as a great opportunity to dive into something new. I know that I can use my skills to figure out any challenge and always learn something unexpected in the process.

What advice would you give to Trinity students to prepare for a position in your field? Use your summers to pursue interests you might not have time for during the school year. You can spin any summer experience in a job interview after you graduate, but you might not have those wonderful summer vacations again! Take the GMAT or GRE the summer after you graduate from college even if you aren’t sure you’ll apply to grad school. You’ll be so happy it’s over with when you do apply to schools, and you won’t have to worry about studying after work. Maintain connections with your professors so they’ll be ready to write you recommendation letters should the need arise. Most importantly, develop close friendships with classmates in your class and in other classes; they will be your most valuable networking group and best friends for the rest of your life!