Young Alumni Spotlight
Take 5 With Stefanie Groner
Meet Stefanie, established consultant and this month’s alumni spotlight. From her first post-grad job in Chicago to her current position in Boston, Stefanie has found ways to stay connected with the NU Hillel community and make Judaism a part of her everyday life.
1) What is your career path? How did you decide to work in this field?
I came to Medill because I loved telling stories and meeting new people. I found my way into consulting through SCNO, a student group volunteering to develop business strategies for local nonprofits, and I got clued into the world of consulting. I had the opportunity to work on teams, explore diverse businesses, research in creative ways, and think strategically. I was still meeting new people, asking questions, and telling stories - just with a business bend. My SCNO [Students Consulting for NonProfit Organizations] experiences led me to a Journalism Residency at a consulting firm, and a post-grad job in IBM's Consulting by Degrees program, an entry-level management consulting network, with client-facing project rotations. From there, I had the opportunity to work across the country from energy companies implementing new softwares to government agencies rethinking how technology can transform their bureaucratic processes. After two years, like most good consultants, I was searching for a more defined path and found my way to Watson, IBM's artificial intelligence play. I worked on bringing oncology technologies to market, and integrating acquisitions around a singular sales strategy. Now, I work at a tiny population health company - 200 people instead of 300,000! I never would've guessed where I'd be 5 years out of school (and I can't believe it's been 5 years!).
2) How has NU Hillel impacted your post-grad life?
My NU Hillel friend network is amazing! The minute I graduated and moved to Lakeview, I was surrounded by purple love, with shabbat dinner invitations every week - I felt so happy coming home from work travel each week because of the way the Jewish community welcomed me. I also had so many other young professionals to advise me and guide me - and help me make the right career decisions or get involved locally. In Boston, past Hillel President and NU Challah for Hunger co-founder Nora Cohen is still feeding me the world's best challah regularly, and we recently hosted a Dinner with Twelve Strangers. Even a timezone away from campus, we bleed purple!
3) How do you incorporate Judaism into your life now?
When I moved to Boston for my job with Watson Health, the transition was ROUGH. I knew about 5 people in the whole city. I came to a Moishe House for a potluck dinner and was immediately welcomed. There were people of all different backgrounds and stories, getting together to share food in a living room on a freezing November night - much better than Netflix! I knew I had found my community home. A year later, I moved in. Together my roommates plan 7 programs a month for Jewish 20 somethings in our neighborhood. We recently did an Indian Shabbat, we run a monthly book club, and next month are attending adult night at LegoLand and hosting a discussion on Spiritual Symbols in Seders. The way the Jewish community supports and incentivizes this hyperlocal creative community-building is incredible - we are so lucky to be a part of a tradition that emphasizes spiritual exploration through unique forums like Moishe House.
4) What is your favorite memory from your undergrad experience at NU Hillel?
I went on a killer alternative spring break trip to Budapest with Hillel my senior year - we attended a slam poetry seder at their Moishe House! 5 years later, living in a Cambridge Moishe House, I can't believe I first went to a Moishe House through NU Hillel years before - what comes around, goes around! When people ask me where my favorite place in the world is, I sometimes answer the Library at Hillel - I well up just thinking about the kabbalat services I celebrated with my closest friends on campus.
5) What piece of advice would you give to students who hope to continue their Jewish involvement post NU?
Don't be afraid to get involved, to introduce yourself to new people, and to say "Hey, I'm new here!" There are inspirational cultural, arts, social justice, spiritual, musical or sporty Jewish community things happening from Los Angeles to Nashville to D.C. - and I can think of awesome NU Jews from coast to coast. Shameless plug: wherever you are, come to MoHo! We have retreat weekends nationwide, and there are houses in over 100 cities running programs waiting for you in your 20s and 30s. As a codified yenta, it would be my honor to help you find a Jewish something somewhere - there's a rich Jewish existence far beyond JSwipe! Please reach out and let's talk about what's happening in your city!