December Alumna Spotlight: Molly O’Connor
Each month, NeW is proud to highlight a NeW alumna. Today, we would like to feature Molly O'Conner, a graduate of the University of Dallas. Read about what Molly has been up to since her time at NeW:
Where and when were you involved with NeW on Campus?
I became involved with NeW in 2008--the fall of my sophomore year. I was the inaugural vice president of our University of Dallas chapter. I stayed involved with NeW as president my junior year and then as an advisor and helped with communications/outreach my senior year.
What drew you to NeW originally?
My friend Ashley Crouch had decided to bring NeW to UD. She was fabulous, talented, and had a passion for NeW issues. I was a young politics major determined to change the world and very passionate about having women involved in politics who valued the role of families in society and the gift of human life. I couldn't say no when she asked me to get involved!
What was your favorite thing about being involved with NeW?
[NeW] opened up a lot of doors for me--especially the summer I interned in DC and met women from other NeW chapters. But I think, more importantly, NeW encouraged me to read a lot and think critically about the narrative the prevailing politics told about women and what we wanted. I remember thinking, how do they [national female politicians] know what I want? They just assumed that their opinions were mine because I was a woman. Assuming that all women would agree on "women's issues"--I couldn't think of anything more sexist.
What have you done since graduation?
Currently, I am working at San Miguel School of Washington DC--a tuition-free Catholic school that serves low income middle school boys. Many of them come in behind in reading and math and we get them up to speed in time to apply for and receive financial aid for private and charter high schools. I am responsible for communications, marketing, and outreach.
After graduating from the University of Dallas, I received an M.A. in International Affairs at American University--where I focused on international development and education. While getting my degree, I managed the Young Journalists program at The American Spectator and assisted with the marketing and circulation of the magazine. I spent a summer researching, volunteering, and working throughout India, Nepal, and Thailand. I did communications for foundation in New Jersey that focused on life initiatives (both pro-life and end of life issues) before coming back to Washington, DC.
How has NeW shaped your post-college experience?
NeW has helped provide a network of familiar and friendly faces in the DC professional arena. I hope to eventually bring together some of the issues that NeW advocates for with my international background.
What piece of advice would you give to current NeW Women?
We didn't really do the traditional events of most NeW chapters, because our campus was uniquely culturally conservative. Our chapter focused primarily on readings and discussions. My advice would be--find the activities that fit your campus and your members. You and your group will be the expert on your campus culture. For some groups that will be more political activism, more campus events, or more book club activities. Know your campus and your membership and try to shape your chapter around what will best support a successful chapter.
What was your favorite book on the NeW reading list?
My earliest memory of NeW was sitting on the floor in Ashley Crouch's apartment surrounded by NeW books and trying to plan what our UD chapter would look like for the semester. Some of the best pieces that sparked discussion were op-eds from the NY Times or Pope John Paul II's Letter on the Dignity of Women.
What is one of your favorite memories from being a member of NeW?
We hosted a Cupcakes and Pearls recruiting event--we made and decorated so many cupcakes! But it was a great bonding experience for our chapter leadership.
What have you learned as you started your career that you might want to share with college students?
Internships are important! My summer internship after my sophomore year ended up being a job offer upon college graduation. Stay in touch with people and help people out when you can.
Do you have any professional tips for the workplace?
-Dress for success--even if the office culture is more casual. You will take your work more seriously and you will be taken more seriously if you dress accordingly.
-Always put your best effort forward and work hard--no matter what position you're in.
-Find away to get along with everyone you work with. You don't have to hang out with all of them outside of work--but you spend 40+ hours a week with these people and you rely on each other for projects. Having a positive rapport will benefit everyone and the larger mission of your organization.