| by Chelsea Segal MPA ’19


Segal, Chelsea
Chelsea Segal MPA ’19 on graduation day.

Middlebury Institute graduates discuss where they are working today, how the Institute helped them get there, and what advice they’d give to current and future MIIS students. 

My name is Chelsea Segal and I graduated with an MPA from the Middlebury Institute in 2019. My language of study was Spanish and I specialized in intercultural competence. I had previously served in the Peace Corps in Panama. Today, I am a consultant with Guild Education in Denver, Colorado.

In mid-2021, a recruiter on LinkedIn reached out to me about an opportunity at Guild. There are two other MIIS alumni that work at Guild and through them, I had heard of the work Guild does and was pretty impressed with the mission of the company. I continued through the interview process and made it almost to the end, but I was not selected for the position. 

I knew that I was a good fit for the company but had a few skillset areas that were recommended to build on and so I continued to develop my skills. Fast forward to the end of 2022, I felt like it was the right time to try again. I reached back out to the recruiter and let her know the ways I had been building my skills and how my current (at the time) role actually put me in a better position to be a better qualified candidate. I went through the interview process again and was offered the job!

I find this really reassuring in a few different ways. If you know you are a fit but don’t get the position the first time, it’s okay to try again. I learned how to advocate for myself and ensure that I was positioning myself in the best way after learning more about what they were looking for. I also was not sure I wanted to transition out of the nonprofit space but I am so grateful that I have had the opportunity to make this shift in such a mission driven organization.

If you know you are a fit but don’t get the position the first time, it’s okay to try again.
— Chelsea Segal MPA ’19

Being immersed in the Middlebury Institute community has helped guide me and build my confidence along the way. The fundraising workshop was a good introduction to how funding works (even though it was a bit more focused on university funding, concepts can be integrated into nonprofit work as well). That led me to my previous role as a corporate partnership manager, that focused on development work which helped give me the skills to be qualified for my position today at Guild. The Program Evaluation course and the Design, Partnering, Management, and Innovation program were great for me as well.

Segal, Chelsea photo 2
Chelsea Segal MPA ’19

Everything in nonprofit work is about showing results and showing that the program, plan, project, etc., is working. Understanding ethics in reporting, how to evaluate data, and why, is so important. It doesn’t matter where your role sits within an organization, we all overlap with data analysis and even though I don’t work in data, I interact with it everyday! Now when I talk to my clients, I am able to tell a story through data to ensure they feel their program is working the way it is intended for their specific learner base. 

While I was attending MIIS, I had two great professional learning experiences. I did a six-week immersive program through Duke University-India Summer School for International Development Leaders. That program was truly transformational for me in working in cross-cultural teams. My role now is working cross-organizationally. I also worked for two years at the Lyceum of Monterey County. Having that experience of running and managing a few of their program/events was so helpful in sharpening my skills.

Keep Your LinkedIn Up to Date

My number one piece of advice for current students is to keep your LinkedIn profile up-to-date. As soon as I started putting more intention into my LinkedIn, I started getting more recruiters reaching out to me. Look up job descriptions of jobs that you are interested in and make sure those words appear somewhere on your profile. Take that phone call if someone reaches out. Practice your pitch. Also, know your value. It’s difficult in the nonprofit sector in particular, but you are in grad school and you deserve the salary you are hoping to make.

This story was updated on October 11, 2023, to reflect Chelsea’s new position.

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