Welcome to “3 Questions with …”, a recurring feature on the Career Center blog. We’re asking alumni of all graduation years and career interests to share a bit of their experiences and advice.
Aalok Kanani, ’11, Chief Digital & Communications Officer
1. In just a few sentences, please tell us about your current job/graduate program/vocational endeavor.
I’m currently the Chief Digital and Communications Officer at the Asia Society, which is a non-profit that’s a combination of an art museum, policy think tank, and cultural institution. In the past I’ve had similar roles in politics and government, where I’ve spent most of my career.
2. How did your time at Tufts influence your career journey?
The first job I applied to was actually at the Asia Society. I didn’t get it, but my time at Tufts – especially outside the classroom — was nonetheless critical to unlocking the career opportunities I’ve had. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do so I tried as many things as possible through internships. It mostly taught me a lot about what I didn’t want to do (which was invaluable), but also led me to volunteering for the Obama campaign sophomore year. I loved it, and through those connections I was lucky enough to join the Obama administration after graduating, which in turn unlocked pretty much every other career opportunity I’ve had.
3. What advice would you offer to a student who wants to pursue a career path like yours?
Take chances early on. That’s easier said than done — everyone has their own risk tolerance, and a lot of that has to do with privilege, but risks only get bigger as you get older. Do things early in your career that you’ll be proud of when you retire, and more importantly that you can talk about in every single job interview moving forward. I left the Obama Administration after 4 years to volunteer for a UN mission. It paid a lot less and was only a 6-month gig, but I’ve never had a job interview where it didn’t come up and when I applied to grad school it was the explicit reason I got a scholarship. Also, if you want to work in politics you have to go work on campaigns. Campaigns are risky – they’re short term, can end at any moment, and don’t pay very well, but you learn a lot quickly and get massive responsibility. They’re almost like grad school for the industry, except you can do it while you’re still in college.