As a Clark undergraduate, Ryan DiMaria ’18, MPA ’19 designed his own major in transgender studies, with a minor in sociology, before taking advantage of the University’s Accelerated B.A./Master’s Degree program in public administration. After graduating with his master’s, he secured a position at Fenway Health, a Boston-based LGBTQ+ health care, research, and advocacy organization, which allows him to combine his passions for LGBTQ+ rights and helping others.
Speaking with alumni via ClarkCONNECT helped DiMaria focus his interests and pursue a career in human resources, so he has returned the favor by posting two job opportunities on the platform. We spoke with him about his work, ClarkCONNECT, and how his Clark experience shaped his career goals.
When — and why — did you join ClarkCONNECT?
I first joined ClarkCONNECT as a student in the summer of 2018. I was entering the Accelerated Degree Program and I knew I was going to have to start my job search during that year. I was terrified because I still felt unsure about what I wanted to be “when I grew up.” At that time I was looking for an opportunity to connect with alumni and learn more about my different areas of interest. As a transgender man, I was intimidated by the thought of putting myself out there in a job search, and I was hoping to find someone who could provide some advice about navigating gender and sexuality in a job search.
You completed both your undergraduate and graduate degrees at Clark. Can you tell us a little bit about your path from college student to grad student to career professional?
Throughout my time at Clark, I knew the kinds of things I was passionate about: LGBTQ+ rights, diversity and inclusion, and helping people, among other things. By my junior year, I realized I had no idea what kind of career would possibly integrate these different areas, so I decided to take courses and complete internships that were out of my comfort zone. And I took advantage of every opportunity to try something new.
During my fifth year, I realized I could integrate many of my passions into a career in human resources. I worked to develop my network and did as many informational interviews as I could. These informational interviews helped me narrow my interests, provided a direction for my job search, and eventually led me to a job offer from Fenway Health.
How did your time at Clark prepare you for a career in Human Resources?
My undergraduate degree was very theoretical and academic, which taught me how to think critically. My studies in the MPA program were hands-on and taught me practical skills in project management, change management, and administration. I think a balance of both types of education helped prepare me for a career in HR. While I was in my fifth year, I also worked as a Career Development Graduate Assistant and gained immense amounts of experience reviewing résumés and cover letters, which has proven incredibly helpful to my current position, as several of my responsibilities relate to recruiting.
Can you speak a bit about your role at Fenway Health? What does a typical work day look like for you?
Hardly any two days look the same for me at Fenway! Every day feels like a new adventure in which I am challenged and taught new things. Many of my responsibilities relate to recruiting. For example, I screen candidates for open positions, conduct reference checks, and I will attend on-campus career fairs in the fall and spring to meet with students. I still try to take advantage of all the new opportunities that I can. For example, I am looking forward to joining Fenway’s new Trans and Non-Binary Employee Resource Group and helping to deliver a diversity and inclusion presentation as part of our New Employee Orientation.
Why did you choose to share two Fenway Health positions with fellow Clarkies on ClarkCONNECT?
From my experience, I know that Clarkies are mission-driven and dedicated to social justice —and they care about making a positive impact in the world. Fenway Health is always looking for passionate people whose commitment and values align with our own. Clarkies have the passion and drive we are looking for.
Being a recent graduate, what career development advice can you share with students as they prepare to enter the job market?
I have two major pieces of advice. First, I cannot stress enough the importance of networking. In the spring semester of my fifth year I applied to more than 30 jobs, was screened via phone several times, and was invited to just a handful of interviews. The Fenway Health job offer did not come from any of my 30 applications! While I was applying for jobs I connected with people, who connected me with their connections, who connected me with their connections! I went on informational interviews with as many people as I could, narrowed my own career interests, and asked for advice from each of them. Eventually I was lucky enough to speak with someone who was working at my dream organization and said, “I have a job opening up and you might be a good fit.”
My second piece of advice is to stay calm. This is easier said than done, but if you keep working at it, your dream opportunity will present itself.