Nicole Freire

Nicole FreireBiology: Pre-Health

Describe your current job role:

Right after graduation, I became an intern with the National Malaria Control Program and the National Health Institute in Mozambique (my home country) while getting ready to leave for graduate school at NYU this Fall. My duties included writing reports, participating in workshops with the WHO and the Gates Foundation, and conducting case studies with local master students I'm currently getting my Master of Public Health degree in Epidemiology from NYU. 

What professional experience(s) did you have prior to your current job role?

Before graduating from PBA, I worked as a student worker for Career Development. I loved doing research, writing reports, data collection and processing, and building connections with employers and students alike. I was a peer tutor for Academic Success, tutoring multiple science classes like physics, genetics, chemistry, and microbiology. I worked as a peer mentor for the First Year and Transfer Experience, focusing mostly on civic engagement, as a student health education leader for Health and Wellness, and as a student government house representative. 

What do you know now that you wish you had known about being a working professional?

It turns out that being a conscientious, well-rounded citizen, plays in your favor in the workplace. Read good books. Watch the news, then challenge yourself to check another outlet with a different bias from yours. Understand what goes on beyond your borders. Your colleagues and superiors will appreciate this.

"It turns out that being a conscientious, well-rounded citizen, plays in your favor in the workplace."

How did PBA prepare you for the world of work?

Right now, it feels as though my life at PBA, academically and professionally, prepared me for this moment -- especially my experience as a fellow for the LeMieux Center for Public Policy, the tight knit nature of the biology department (and the relationship I built with my advisor), and the Honors program.

Being at PBA exposed me to incredible people who taught me one of the most important lessons a young professional and aspiring difference maker can learn: serve everyone equally, as though you were serving a king, and expect nothing in return. It also taught me how to advocate for myself and others in a kind but assertive manner, one that is also honorable. I'd be remiss to not mention the fact that my business casual wardrobe developed way quicker than I'd expected, thanks to my time working for Career Development.

What advice would you give to current PBA students and/or young alumni who are about to start their first professional full-time job?

WOW! As cliché as this sounds; face your fears. I remember being afraid of small talk and speaking in public. By the time the end of senior year came around, speaking in front of groups of people became easier and networking. It felt a little bit more like a rush and less like a meeting with a firing squad. Now THAT is definitely something I've had to carry over to my internship and graduate school, especially when it came to participating in workshops and think tanks. 

Another (unfortunately cliché) bit of advice is: don't be afraid to speak up. I'm one of those people who loves looking at data, finding patterns, and figuring out how best to represent it. Had I not spoken up in a staff meeting and asked to write a report, I probably wouldn't have been able to use that skill at work. The same also goes for being able to say no. 

Have you been mentored by anyone in your professional field since entering the workforce? If so, what impact has that had on you?

I haven't yet, but that's only made me draw from lessons learned from past bosses and mentors.

Spotlight posted in November 2017. For current updates from Nicole, visit her LinkedIn page.