Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Alumni panel discusses how to change the world

Discussion explores public policy, law school and the best ways to make a career in these sectors
Dylan Nguyen/Daily Collegian (2022)

On Nov. 9 at 5 p.m., a University of Massachusetts alumni panel promoted the new public policy major established this fall and discussed the impact their jobs in public policy and law had on the world in the event, “Law, Policy, Non-Profits: How will you change the world?”

The four-person panel gave insight into their jobs and career path to give advice to aspiring students hoping to go into public policy or law. The event was hosted by UMass Pre-Law, the School of Public Policy and MassPIRG.

The panel emphasized the use of informational interviews when finding a career path. By asking about the culture of a job, they explained, the more can be understood about whether it is favorable for the future.

Cobi Frongillo, a 2018 UMass graduate, is a current member of the Massachusetts Legislative Joint Committee. Frongillo told the audience “just don’t be afraid, people want to help,” when reaching out to alumni and professors.

Audience member Eden Gross, a junior women, gender and sexualities major said, “There is a lot of pressure to see all these things that need to be done… and the urge of, ‘oh I have to fix it’. But to realize it starts locally small. That’s definitely a lot of advice that a lot of people need to hear.”

Panelist Ayla Thorntona, a 2020 UMass graduate who went on to earn a master’s in public policy in 2021, is a current legislative aide in the Massachusetts senate. Thorntona explained the importance of seizing opportunities at UMass.

“Get involved as much as you can, and aside from that, challenge yourself with what you are getting involved in,” she said.

Thorntona related her job as a campus tour-guide to politics, both of which require the need to be honest in your speech but to phrase it in a very particular way. She explained that each experience she had as a student had a lesson to takeaway.

Panelist Emily Mew and Thorntona suggested volunteering as an experience and Frongillo encouraged the use of internships to try out different organizations. Frongillo noted the importance of people who understand data.

Thorntona said she wished she had taken more coding classes while an undergraduate. She urged students to join the new public policy major and explore coding, political science, policy writing and economics.

The panelists were in agreement that when a prospective employee reaches out independently to jobs and comes

prepared, they already have an advantage over other candidates.

“There is some luck that will happen to you along the way,” said panelist Christopher Cappucci, an assistant district attorney. “But luck tends to follow those that are actually prepared and those that are actually willing to step up when they get that opportunity.”

Mia Blue can be reached at [email protected].

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