RealJobs: Patricia McLaughlin Carey

Frames of Reference

Three times a year, the Connecticut College Board of Trustees meets on campus, and today—Friday—was one of those days. I gave several presentations on our new website, our social media strategy and Centennial initiatives. Here I am presenting to the board’s communications committee.

I enjoy public speaking now, but I didn’t always. During my B.C. junior year abroad at the University of Montpellier, my literature classes required oral presentations. I remember that my knees literally shook when I stood in front of a class full of French students trying to explain in French the importance of the Princesse de Clèves in the development of the modern novel. Compared to that, explaining the Centennial in English is a breeze.

Which just goes to show that you never know what aspect of your B.C. education you’ll be drawing on.

After B.C., I earned a master’s degree in international studies at Johns Hopkins. My first post-college job was at the Asia Foundation in San Francisco as a program officer. After several years there, I was awarded a Bosch Fellowship to Germany, where I worked for the electronics giant Siemens and the Association of German Chambers of Commerce.

When I returned to the U.S., I switched to journalism and spent ten years as a writer and editor specializing in international business and trade. Once, I interviewed the then-president of Connecticut College about a new program she had introduced to integrate international studies with the liberal arts.  I was impressed by her vision—and the fact that she, like me, had been a French major in college. Several years later when a communications position opened in her office, I made the switch to higher education.

The best thing I did at B.C. was to take a great variety of classes—from geology to philosophy to economics. Every course gave me a different perspective and a different framework for approaching problems. I value particularly the cross-cultural perspectives I gained from majoring in languages and studying abroad. In every job, I’ve had to deal with a wide range of issues. I’ve had to gather and evaluate large amounts of information quickly. I’ve had to find creative solutions to complex problems. And of course, I’ve had to communicate fast, clearly and well to diverse audiences through many different media. My B.C. education has helped every step of the way.

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