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Talia Parisi, Gordon Fellow ‘14, entered the Gordon Institute seeking an opportunity to gain the leadership skills necessary in the engineering industry. “I’d been so limited to a field of jobs and I never really broadened the spectrum. I started looking into engineering careers and that’s how I found Northeastern and the Gordon Institute. The combined program appealed to me because I wanted a unique learning experience. The Gordon Program offered a cohort experience that allowed me to absorb information from other types of engineering students other than just my specific mathematical background.”

After interviewing and being accepted into the Gordon Program, Talia was faced with a new challenge: finding employment at a company within her industry to sponsor her Challenge Project. Through networking and guidance from Gordon Institute professors, Talia landed a position with Genscape, an international company that specializes in supplying intelligence to global commodity and energy markets. “I wanted it, I knew I wanted it, and I knew that I was going to be successful. I just needed someone to give me the opportunity and to believe in me as much as I believed in myself.”

Reflecting on the twelve months that Talia spent earning her Graduate Certificate in Engineering Leadership, she describes her experience and the academic environment of The Gordon Institute. “There was nothing else like it! In the Gordon Program, you’re with the same exact people in every single class and everyone brings something completely different to the table because you have people from every different kind of engineering background. You have the IT guys, the physics guys, the chemical engineers and you learn something from everyone. You can all be looking at the same equation and come at it from a completely different perspective. A chemical guy might use the same equation to do something but it’s for a different purpose. Seeing math applied in many different scenarios, you can’t compare it to a regular class because in a regular class you’re only going to get one point of view and with the Gordon Program you get twenty times that because of the diversity of students and their unique industry experience.”

While enrolled in The Gordon Institute, students are required to work and design and execute a Challenge Project, while attending weekly classes in order to make the most of their experiential education. “Going through the program and working at Genscape simultaneously was beneficial because I would learn practical knowledge about industry in class and the next day I’d go into work and I’d say ‘oh wow this is what they were talking about’ and I would use what I was learning in class and apply it to what I was doing at Genscape. The Gordon Institute provided a really comfortable place not only to learn but to make mistakes and grow from them; in the past four years that’s what I’ve continuously done.” Due to the level of success, Talia achieved in her internship, she was offered a full-time position at Genscape once she completed The Gordon Program. “My role has definitely evolved over time, in part because I understand the overall business and goals better.  I have held a role in almost all parts of the business; in the past 4 plus years, I’ve worked as an analyst (client-facing) using the models built by Genscape and worked to help improve and support these models. Currently, I am working with the source of the data; I was given the responsibility to help design a tool that would save time and provide better data for outage messages to a successful deploy, which has saved Genscape many man-hours and delivered better quality data to our clients. Since I have such a broad understanding, it is easier to identify potential problems in the workflow and help to create a mockup of tools to improve data flow and quality.  Previously I did not have such general knowledge and the tool I worked on initially was isolated.”

Three years after completing The Gordon Program, Talia has taken on more responsibilities at Genscape and relocated to Amsterdam, she attributes many of her successes to the opportunities that began with The Gordon Institute and explained that she is using what she learned in her day to day life. “I would say almost everything that you do in class when you’re taught about the actual industry, it comes into play a lot. What’s beneficial is the way the professors teach you to act. I constantly think of how my reaction would make another person feel or how can I approach this in a different way…That’s the biggest thing, communication, and that’s something they teach you, you need to communicate  effectively on a project, working day to day; otherwise, nothing gets done.”

When asked if she was satisfied with the career opportunities that The Gordon Institute and Northeastern opened up for her Talia explained that she was really pleased with her decision and urges other students interested in pursuing a master’s degree to consider the same opportunity. “I would say there’s no other option for you, absolutely do it, because until you get that experience of combining a technical master’s degree with the leadership training offered through the Gordon Institute, there’s no other experience like it. You come out with a completely transformed person. Everyone had something positive that they learned. Everyone grew from it and what they took away will stay with them forever, it was an experience of a lifetime. You’re going to struggle, it’s probably going to be one of the hardest things that you do, but at the end of the day it’s one of the most rewarding. To this day I think it was one of the most rewarding experiences.  Previously I had graduated undergrad in three years with a double major, and still, this tops anything I’ve done.”