John Karas channels his athletic drive to achieve success in life. He tells fellow Clark graduate-of-the-last-decade Emilee Cocuzzo ’18, MBA ’19, what he’s been up to since his days on Clark’s basketball team.
When did you graduate and what did you do at Clark?
How was your experience as a student-athlete at Clark?
It was awesome; I had a great experience. In my first year, I was a member of the basketball team, but I did not make it onto varsity — which taught me about my sense of entitlement. I thought I was the greatest, and then coming in and not being on the varsity team, I had to step back. But that year our team made it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, so I got to witness success.
After that, every summer I worked hard and by the end of my career, I was captain of the basketball team. I carried that sense of determination and hard work into the classroom, as well.
Where are you now? What have you been up to?
I am the product manager of data strategy at Quick Base, a cloud software company based in Cambridge, Mass.
I have been working in tech since my time at Clark; I started at Dell EMC for a year and a half, then I worked at Athenahealth for two years. And I have been working at Quick Base for almost two years now. I also have been coaching college basketball for five years, so I have been busy! This is actually my first year off from coaching.
What about hobbies? Do you have any new or developing ones?
Traveling the world is my biggest hobby outside of work and sports. I went to Europe after I graduated from Clark, then went back there in 2015, 2016, and 2017. Last December, I went to Australia. I’ve been trying to travel as much as I can.
Other than that, I try to build up my technical experience in my spare time by reading or learning coding languages. I have learned SQL and now I am learning Python.
Do you have any ‘adulting’ tips or advice you can share with your fellow Clarkies?
Making your own food is way cheaper than buying. Try not to eat pasta every night of the week. Don’t feel like you have to pay a high rent. You can be cool with living in a less luxurious apartment to save money you can then use to have memorable experiences.
Try to understand what you think you want before you do it. Don’t be pressured by what your other friends are doing. For example, don’t think you have to get married right away just because your friends are getting married. Go at your own speed!
Do you have any career advice for recent Clark graduates?
Be in a job where you are always growing. If you feel that you are not growing, or do not even see a path to growth in terms of your knowledge, your skillset, your abilities, and ways you can demonstrate your impact, then it is time to move on.
On the other side of that, you also have to be aware of the macro-environment of your company. Make sure you enjoy your macro-environment, whether it’s the industry or the company. I recommend pursuing a company you feel passionate about because there will always be opportunities within it, even if you are not happy with your current position there.
How do you stay involved with the Clark community?
I love checking the basketball scores and seeing how the team is doing. I stay in touch with my Clark friends pretty often. We meet up every few weekends. A lot of my friends from Clark are my friends for life.
I stay involved as an advisory board member of the Master of Science in Business Analytics program, where I volunteer for mock interviews and help connect interns with companies.