Career Conversations

Connect with alumni, professionals, and recruiters in a variety of fields!

Coming in November...

5 Career Conversations: 3 based on identity + 2 focused on specific professions. Watch here for details.

planning to join the conversation? let us know you'll be there—RSVP in Loggerjobs!

Past Conversations:

Career Conversations...Emerging Health Care: Tuesday, April 9,  6:00 p.m. in Thompson 381

Discover new and developing careers in health care from Logger alumni!

Cheyenne Dewey ’16, MS LGC
Genetic Counselor | Mary Bridge Children’s Health Center

Cheyenne graduated from Puget Sound with a Bachelor of Science degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology and a minor in Spanish language. Her work as a Chemistry Course Assistant and Peer Tutor at the Center for Writing Learning & Teaching inspired her to consider a career in genetic counseling where she could combine her skills and enthusiasm for science and teaching with caring for people in a healthcare setting. She went on to complete her master’s degree in genetic counseling at the University of Minnesota in May 2018. Cheyenne currently works as a genetic counselor at Mary Bridge Children’s in downtown Tacoma seeing a variety of pediatric and adult patients with developmental delays, neuromuscular disorders, congenital birth defects, and a wide range of chromosome or single-gene disorders.

What do you enjoy most about your work? 

Cheyenne: My work is always interesting and expanding, and it is very fulfilling. The technology and knowledge in this field are constantly evolving; I have had patients diagnosed with rare diseases that are documented in the medical literature fewer than a dozen times and were only determined by a blood test that sifts through 20,000+ genes to find the specific typo in the code causing their symptoms.

Each of my patients and families have different questions, worries, and fears that I help puzzle through and look for answers with physicians, and counsel families through the challenging conclusions. The families I meet are often exhausted by the medical field not being able find an answer, not being able to support them. I am part of a team that listens to them and follows through to support them beyond the hospital, out in the community. My work can be intellectually and emotionally challenging, but it feels wonderful to be a valuable support to patients and even several generations and branches of their families.

What advice would you offer students who seek to pursue this type of work?

Cheyenne: This is an amazing line of work with so many opportunities for jobs and career evolution over time. However, it is important to know yourself and think through what the training and subsequent job(s) entail. This work requires a high level of motivation and willingness to be an independent and creative problem-solver. This field continues to face a shortage of genetic counselors, which means each counselor is a valuable member of the field and often may need to take on additional tasks, build new protocols, and/or advocate for the profession at various levels.

This work also requires you to value empathy and interpersonal interactions, and be open and willing to navigating emotions. For example, graduate programs highly encourage previous experience in patient advocacy such as working for crisis hotlines or other counseling services to see that applicants are dedicated to helping patients/clients in highly emotional states.

Jason Legan ’03
Physician Assistant | MultiCare

Jason matriculated in 1999 and began studying computer science, switched to math after his first year, then to natural science biology to finish his BS. While attending Puget Sound, Jason also completed a one-quarter EMT class at Tacoma Community College (TCC) and worked as an EMT for 2 years. With that experience, Jason took a job as an ER Technician at Tacoma General where he worked alongside the nurses, physician assistants, doctors, and myriad physician specialists. Jason then realized that he wanted to be a PA, so he returned to TCC to finish his prerequisites and then applied to the University of Washington PA program where he graduated with a Masters of Clinical Health Services, Physician Assistant in 2013. Working at Multicare for his entire PA career, Jason spent his first 18 months in the adult epilepsy clinic, and has been with the urgent care centers ever since. 

What do you enjoy most about your work? 

Jason: What I enjoy most about my job is the wide variety of things we get to see on a daily basis. I am also very fortunate to work with people that have become great friends. 

What advice would you offer students who seek to pursue this type of work?

Jason: For anybody who wants to pursue a career as a physician assistant, I recommend finishing your bachelors degree, getting some type of hands-on clinical work experience, and making sure you have all the prerequisites needed to apply to PA school by checking a variety of programs, as the prerequisites can vary somewhat dramatically.  

Daron Ryan ’12
Research Coordinator | UW Latino Center for Health

Daron graduated from Puget Sound with a dual degree in Psychology and Spanish: Cultural and Critical Studies. After spending a few years in Spain working as an English language teacher, Daron returned to the Pacific Northwest to complete her Masters in Public Health from the University of Washington. Daron initially began her career in public health as a community health worker and family case manager in Pierce County. With a special interest in stress and social determinants of health, Daron has spent the last 4 years addressing Latino health disparities through community-engaged research and promoting the health of low-wage industry workers. 

What do you enjoy most about your work? 

Daron: My work involves partnering with community organizations to come up with solutions for important health concerns, which is different from the traditional understanding of research. I love that every day is something different, requiring me to be creative and think on my feet. I also appreciate that our work at the Center is rooted in health equity and advocacy—for me, these were the reasons I was drawn to public health in the first place.

What advice would you offer students who seek to pursue this type of work?

Daron: Public health is incredibly broad—the field incorporates everything from health communications, to health policy, to direct patient care. This is a plus in that almost anything you study in some way relates to health, allowing you to carve your own spot based on what you are passionate about. I recommend shadowing someone if you find their work interesting so you can get to know the day-to-day. Internships are also a great way to get hands-on experience at a local health department, research lab, or non-profit organization. Lastly, for those interested in immigrant and/or international health, I highly recommend learning a second language.


Career Conversations...Psych and SoAn: Thursday, March 28,  7:00 p.m. in Thomas Hall Tahoma Room

Have you wondered what you could do with a major in Psychology or Sociology & Anthropology?

Join CES for an evening of conversation with alumni who have found their path related to Psych and SoAn and with organizations that hire talent from those academic disciplines.

Leslie Boyter '06
Organizational Development Specialist | BECU

Leslie graduated with a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Biology. After experiencing major organizational changes in two different libraries, she decided to go back to school for a Master's degree in Organizational Systems, Leadership and Organizational Development. Since then, Leslie has worked as a consultant focused on supporting government entities and non-profits to maximize benefits and minimize negative impacts on their employees as the organization navigates change.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

Leslie: I enjoy facilitating breakthroughs, such as the "aha" moments when something clicks for someone, or the moment a team finally gels and gets on the same page. Another favorite is seeing my client (individual or group) succeed at something we've been working on together that was particularly challenging for them.

What advice would you offer students who seek to pursue this type of work?

Leslie: Spend some time working your way up within an organization (preferably more than one) before you go into consulting. An advanced degree helps, but it is no substitution for experience. It's easier to put yourself in your client's shoes if you have experienced similar circumstances, pressures, and constraints.


Austin Colburn '18
Degrees of Change Program Assistant | AmeriCorps Tacoma-Seattle

Austin graduated with a degree in Sociology & Anthropology and a minor in Education Studies. Austin is a proud Puget Sound Access Scholar, Palmer Scholar, CSF Achiever, and Mount Tahoma T-Bird. Austin has spent the past year aligning with organizations that support Tacoma Public Schools students as a locally-grown educator and servant-leader.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

Austin: Degrees of Change is one of many organizations in Tacoma that commits itself to supporting students from Pierce County in pursuing higher education and equity. Being able to provide support and access to students who, like myself, needed it during high school and into college has been incredibly fulfilling and uplifting. No matter how big or small the change, I'm happy to be a part of it.

What advice would you offer students who seek to pursue this type of work?

Austin: The most important lesson I've learned so far is that the community is the heart and soul of change. It's where we draw our students, our teachers, and our mentors. Nothing great in Tacoma was done by one person alone, and we are great because so many members of our city believe in the cause of education. What's more, I'm not a scientist. Or a mathematician. Or a businessman. Or a lawyer. I don't need to be because they are here, and their leadership in concert with ours is a valuable part of what makes us great.


Chantel Dozier '16
Domestic Violence Legal Advocate | Korean Women's Association

While still at Puget Sound working on her Sociology & Anthropology degree, Chantel worked part-time as a United Way of Pierce County - 211 Information & Referral Specialist. After graduation, she moved on to the Metropolitan Development Council where she worked as a Supportive Services for Veteran Families Case Manager and then to Community Youth Services as a Residential Youth Counselor before landing in her current role with the Korean Women's Association. Chantel has been accepted into a paralegal program for the fall, and is waiting to hear back about two Master in Social Work applications before making her decision.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

Chantel: I enjoy working in a group of passionate and experienced people, all conscious of social justice and caring of the needs of individuals seeking assistance. It took me a while to find the place that fit my standards for diversity, work ethic, and open communication.

What advice would you offer students who seek to pursue this type of work?

Chantel: Just get started! It can be really intimidating, but everyone who has been doing this work knows that everyone makes mistakes (as long as you're willing to acknowledge and learn you will be fine).

The options of what you can do are so broad and varied, there are aspects you will love and aspects that will frustrate you beyond belief, but it's impossible to REALLY know until you do it for yourself.

This field is emotionally demanding so be prepared to maintain your self-care!


Cassie Marshall '13
AmeriCorps Program Manager | Full Life Care

Cassie graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology & Anthropology, with a minor in Studio Art. During her time at Puget Sound, Cassie was heavily involved in the Queer Alliance and was also a KUPS DJ! After graduation, Cassie wasn’t certain of her path but knew she wanted to learn about careers with positive community impact. she pursued a non-profit internships in Portland before moving back to Seattle for two years of AmeriCorps. Starting this fall, Cassie will be pursuing a Masters in Student Affairs with a focus on career development and service-learning.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

Cassie: I love that I get to work with driven young people who want to make a difference as they are navigating the first few years after college. I get to support them through training and development in what is often their first full-time position in a non-profit setting. It’s amazing to see where they go in their career and their impact after a year of service.

What advice would you offer students who seek to pursue this type of work?

Cassie: For students interested in non-profit careers, get involved on and off campus! Find local organizations doing great work and start volunteering. Also, I’m a bit biased of course, but my years in AmeriCorps were highly influential in my own career trajectory. It gave me the chance to take on big projects and figure out what I liked to do and what I am good at, while also stepping outside my comfort zone. 


Alexis Noren '17
Senior Training and Development Specialist | CareerStaff Unlimited

Alexis graduated with a B.A. in Psychology and Business. Alexis works in training and development, where she has the unique opportunity to train new employees for their first few weeks with the company. Her team also provides quality assurance to ensure they are upholding recruitment and job-posting standards company-wide. Alexis' position allows her to foster new relationships across the country, and help people feel welcomed, supported, and prepared as they begin their journey with CareerStaff Unlimited.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

Alexis: I absolutely love the culture of this company—everyone is extremely supportive, transparent, and hard-working. I also have the pleasure of meeting new people from all over the country nearly every day! This means no two days look alike, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

What advice would you offer students who seek to pursue this type of work?

Alexis: Training and development is a very rewarding department that allows you to help shape a new team member's first experiences within the company. Be sure to find an organization whose values truly align with yours so you are able to pass your enthusiasm along to new talent!


Dr. Thomas Roe '03
Clinical Psychologist | Rainier Behavioral Health

After graduating from Puget Sound with a Psychology degree, Thomas went on to get both his Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) and postdoc from UC Davis. He has worked and volunteered in a variety of work environments within the field of psychology, with a focus on university settings, including Seattle University, University of Idaho, UC Davis, and even Puget Sound's counseling center for a brief contract. Thomas has also participated in professional practice and advocacy through the Washington State Psychological Association, from Graduate Student Representative to the advisory committee. Thomas is currently in private practice as a clinical psychologist at Rainier Behavioral Health as well as an adjunct professor at Middlebury Institute for International Studies in Monterey, CA,

What do you enjoy most about your work?

Thomas: I love meeting new people every day to enter their unique world and walk side by side as they work to improve themselves. The flexibility and applicability of the work is also nice.

What advice would you offer students who seek to pursue this type of work?

Thomas: My advice: Volunteer, intern, work in a variety of places and contexts in order to learn what you like and don't like. Building your resume and experience is key


Christiana Smith '15
Data Scientist | Leafly

Christiana graduated with a Bachelors in Psychology and an emphasis in neuroscience. Immediately after college, she worked two years as a research assistant in an ADHD neuroimaging research lab. It was there that Christiana discovered data science and decided to pivot to that for her career. She completed a 3-month data science immersive and attended the University of Chicago’s Data Science for Social Good fellowship. At Leafly, Christiana work on developing a clear, new organization system for cannabis, to better educate consumers on effects.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

Christiana: Data science perfectly blends my statistical and analytic skills, my interest in programming, and my human-centered approach into one wonderful career. I get to do all sorts of things in my job and am never bored. It’s very exciting to know that the project I’m on at Leafly is one that will impact a developing industry for years to come.

What advice would you offer students who seek to pursue this type of work?

Christiana: Don’t be afraid to combine other disciplines with your psychology degree. If you have a strong interest in statistics as well as programming, I recommend taking computer science courses, as well as math classes. I really wish I had taken linear algebra! 


Brian Takagi '09
Hospice Social Worker | CHI Franciscan Health

After Brian graduated with a Comparative Sociology degree, he enrolled in a three-year Master’s in Social Work program at the University of Washington. Brian is now a hospice social worker for Franciscan Hospice with more than five years of experience working in the medical field. Brian specializes in coordinating in-home services for families taking care of loved ones who are terminally ill.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

Brian: What I enjoy the most about my work is I know I am making a difference. I assist with researching community programs, coordinating higher levels of care, and help direct families to resources that pertain to their specific caregiving situation. The other half of my work involves informal counseling and listening. Families are in need of someone to talk to about what they are going through as the caregiver.

What advice would you offer students who seek to pursue this type of work?

Brian: Get a broad experience of social work through internships or volunteering. Sampling different areas will give you an idea of what field you want to work in. Many graduate schools want applicants with work or volunteer experience. There are many opportunities in legal, government, medical, and non-profit sectors. 


Career Conversations...Biology and Biological Research: Wednesday, Feb. 27, 6-7:30 in the WSC Rotunda

Curious about where a degree in the biological sciences could take you? 

Join CES for an evening of conversation with alumni who have found their path related to biology and biological research, and chat with organizations that often hire talent in these industries.  

Meet alumni working in a variety of roles and organizations, including:

  • Technical Services Branch Manager | Clean Harbors Environmental Services
  • Scientist II | Juno Therapeutics
  • Endangered Species Biologist | U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Science Writer | Freelance
  • Project Manager | Adaptive Biotechnologies
  • Park Ranger | Metro Parks Tacoma
  • Research Associate | University of Washington 
  • Salmon Restoration Biologist | South Puget Sound Salmon Enhancement Group

Danielle Ankenman '08
Technical Services Branch Manager | Clean Harbors Environmental Services

During her time at Puget Sound, Danielle majored in Biology and minored in Spanish. She began her career in Environmental Services in 2010 with a small firm in Louisiana. Today she is the Technical Services Branch Manager for Clean Harbors in Kent, WA. There, Danielle oversees the Operations of four teams dedicated to Hazardous Waste Management. Danielle enjoys the technical, fast paced environmental that Clean Harbors provides and is passionate about mentoring and developing her employees into expert-level, industry-leading teams.  

What do you enjoy most about your work?

Danielle: I enjoy using aspects of my science background daily mixed with business and economics. I appreciate that I am in a position where I am constantly exposed to opportunities to strengthen my problem-solving skills.

What advice would you offer students who seek to pursue this type of work?

Danielle: My advice would be to roll up your sleeves and get as much entry-level experience as possible before you attempt moving up the ladder. The more on-the-job experience, the better, as this industry requires very specialized knowledge.

Cameron Brandt '91 
Scientist II | Juno Therapeutics

Since obtaining his Biology degree, Cameron has been doing molecular and cellular biology in Seattle-area biotech, with stops at Fred Hutchinson, ZymoGenetics, and Novo Nordisk. In his current position at Juno Therapeutics, Cameron is part of a team discovering T cell receptors that are used to engineer T cell antigen specificity for application in cellular cancer immunotherapy.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

Cameron: I enjoy the opportunity to make new discoveries that have the direct potential to become a cancer therapy.

What advice would you offer students who seek to pursue this type of work?

Cameron: The people I have observed that are the most successful in biotech pay careful attention to detail, and are innately curious. Don’t get so focused on achieving academic success that you forget about your love for science and what makes you curious.

Lee Corum '03
Endangered Species Biologist | U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

After graduating with a Biology degree from Puget Sound, Lee spent 5 years at a regional utility association working on mitigation programs for salmon. He then went to UW where he earned a M.S. and an M.P.A. Now, as an Endangered Species Biologist, Lee works on mitigation programs and evaluates the effects of proposed projects to species and their habitats and negotiates changes to increase conservation. 

What do you enjoy most about your work?

Lee: To do my job, I have to combine my knowledge of species with learning about a variety of topics including construction methods, dam operations, and military training exercises and how they could affect species or their habitats.  It’s a great job for someone who is curious about a lot of things. 

What advice would you offer students who seek to pursue this type of work?

Lee: I suggest students find ways to get experience, which could be through volunteering. Anything that gives you experience surveying, evaluating, or restoring species or habitat will be valuable when applying for jobs in my field. 

James Gaines '11
Freelance Science Journalist

James graduated from Puget Sound with a major in Biology and a minor in English. After graduating, he worked in biology-related jobs and internships, including at the Point Defiance Zoo and a genetics testing laboratory. Writing was a major component in these positions. Deciding to try his hand at journalism, James moved to England, and in 2015 got a master's in science journalism from City University (now part of the University of London). James' work has appeared in The Seattle Times, Nature, Atlas Obscura, Upworthy, and The Atlantic

What do you enjoy most about your work?

James: I get to talk to a lot of really interesting people about their passions and can also justify three-hour Wikipedia binges as "research." I occasionally get to make powerful people uncomfortable and help people whose voices need to be heard.

What advice would you offer students who seek to pursue this type of work?

James: There are a lot of ways to get into this industry, so find one that works for you. Respect that reporting is more than just writing well. Everyone has imposter syndrome, it's okay. Also, always file on time and on word count (plus or minus ten percent).

Katie Moran '13
Project Manager | Adaptive Biotechnologies

Katie graduated with a degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology. During her time at Puget Sound, Katie was President of the Phi Sigma Biological Honors Society, a Biology Course Assistant, and an outdoor trip leader. Starting in 2012 she worked as a Research Associate at Spectrum Research where she contributed to multiple health technology assessments.

Katie has been working at Adaptive Biotechnologies since 2015 and currently serves as a Project Manager for the Discovery team. She joined the company as a project coordinator for the scientific founder, and transitioned to a project management role after completing her Project Manager Certificate at the University of Washington.  

What do you enjoy most about your work?

Katie: I love working in a cutting edge field and brushing shoulders with extremely smart and extremely dedicated scientists and professionals. I feel most fulfilled at work when my unique perspective allows me to see a problem before it happens and act to prevent delays and headaches.  

What advice would you offer students who seek to pursue this type of work?

Katie: Find a company with a mission and culture that you align with and get your foot in the door. Don't stress about a job title or specific role if you are excited about working somewhere. Accepting a job isn't a life sentence.

Mary Krauszer '12
Park Ranger | Metro Parks Tacoma

After graduating with a Biology degree, Mary served as an AmeriCorps volunteer at the Slater Museum of Natural History. From there she held environmental education positions with several agencies in the Puget Sound region, including a staff position at Slater and part-time or seasonal roles with Pierce Conservation District, Coding for Kids, Metro Parks Tacoma (Park Ambassador), Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, and the Pacific Science Center.

In 2016, Mary was hired as the first Park Ranger of Point Defiance Park, where she developed and implemented a Junior Ranger Program, manages visitors services for Regional Parks, and hosts year-round interpretive programs. Mary continues to work with University of Puget Sound students through Metro Parks' seasonal Park Ambassador position, and partners with Slater Museum on interpretive programs.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

Mary: I enjoy the opportunity to create new programs and services that engage the public in outdoor recreation, interpretation, and learning.

What advice would you offer students who seek to pursue this type of work?

Mary: Get involved in clubs, volunteer opportunities, summer research, seasonal work, etc. during college. Pursuing a career in environmental education usually takes a few years of cobbling together part-time positions, so don't be afraid of seasonal and temporary opportunities. 

Image of Mary by Parker Miles Blohm for KNKX story: Meet The Friendliest Raccoons In The Northwest, Who Are Actually A Serious Problem

Kristin Williamson '02
Salmon Restoration Biologist | South Puget Sound Salmon Enhancement Group

Kristin: My work focuses on developing a deep sense of the current status of our region’s riverine landscapes and what we can do to reverse over a century of land use practices that have all but completely eliminated dynamic, forested river valleys and have threatened the ability of a Pacific Northwest icon like salmon to survive.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

Kristin: The work that I and others in the Puyallup Watershed do is very hands-on and community driven and that is so rewarding. The path to environmental recovery involves all of us: from science to policy to community and the effects of seeing progress happen on the ground drive me forward in the work that I do. 

What advice would you offer students who seek to pursue this type of work?

Kristin: My career path really started during my time as a student at the University of Puget Sound and I would offer that some of the best networking opportunities for determining my post-graduation career path happened during those college years.  

Career Convos: Arts marquee

Career Conversations...Theatre | Music | Art:  Monday, Nov. 6, 6-7:30 in Thomas Hall, Tahoma Room 
Take your artistic passion and make it a reality! Discuss the variety of opportunities that exist in the arts and connect with alumni working in these fields.

Read the CESblog Careers in the Arts for advice from our alumni panelists!


Career Conversations...Education: Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017, 6-7:30 PM in the Rotunda
Get to know the myriad career paths within the field of education. From K-12 education to higher ed, industry and beyond…teaching, advising, coaching, training…options abound!

Read the CESblog Education Career Paths for advice from our alumni panelists!