Alumnus Guest Blog – What are you going to do?

Kevin Flaherty graduated from Assumption College in 2016 with a double major in Economics and Political Science with a minor in Philosophy. Kevin works at Advantage Capital in Hanover, New Hampshire. He is eager to share how his time at Assumption helped him find purpose in his career. 

As I sit back and reflect on my Assumption days which weren’t too long ago (in my opinion at least), I’ve come to realize that the most valuable aspects of my time at the institution wasn’t necessarily the coursework.

As a bit of background, I double majored in political science and economics with a minor in philosophy. I currently work as an investor at Advantage Capital, which is a social impact firm which operates through a public-private partnership “double bottom line” approach. This means there is usually some public policy initiative that allows us to invest in businesses located in low income/under served areas and tie our investment success both to returns we generate as well as accessible jobs our investments create in these communities.

Advantage Capital has been a good fit for me as it allows me to pursue my interest in the private investment world, which I was trained through my economics degree; in addition to allowing me to take part in the public policy/legislative efforts unique to public private partnerships, something I’ve had exposure to since working in a state legislature all through high school and college coupled my political science degree.

While the coursework at Assumption was thought provoking and invaluable in terms of teaching me how to think it wasn’t particularly applicable to my day to day job. That’s not a bad thing at all. In most jobs, hands on training and experience will be the most useful tool for your success. My coursework has served as an outline to help form a thought process to ask the right questions in business and in public policy. This is no small feat and something I believe is a critical part of a liberal arts education, as it allows someone to draw not just from their own field of study, but that of literature, science, history, religion, etc. to command a broader perspective of the world in which that person operates.

Another important aspect of my time at Assumption had to do with the Sophia program. I was a part of the program’s inaugural class, which facilitates sophomores to discern their vocation in an organized manner throughout their time at Assumption and beyond. It was through this process where I learned a vocation is not a career or a job, but it’s where as Frederick Buechner stated “one’s greatest joy meets the world’s deepest need”. A career or job can be a vehicle to fulfill one’s vocation, but they don’t necessarily have to be one and the same.

It’s important I mention my time with Sophia because as a student there’s a lot of pressure to go out and get jobs with a hyper-focus on what you’re going to “be when you grow up”. As I’ve gotten a bit older I’ve realized a job is just that, a job. The important question, in my opinion, isn’t “what you’re going to be when you grow up”, but “what you’re going to do when you grow up”. The former question holds someone hostage to a job title or a certain static social status and not taking into account the dynamic value he/she could be adding to the world, while the latter question allows for flexibility in pursuing your mission and puts the focus not on a title or a social status, but on an action, you have control over.

If I think that my vocation is helping under served and marginalized people in the best manner which suits my skill set (which I think it is), then I’ve been living out my vocation once graduating by advocating for positive public policy which affects these communities and investing in a thoughtful, impactful manner. In time, I might find other ways to pursue this vocation which could be more suitable and totally outside of my job description.

As I loop back to my time at Assumption, the most important things weren’t necessarily found in the syllabus (don’t get me wrong, they were definitely important, just maybe not the most important). The most important things were found in the questions asked, particularly the big question: what are you going to do? So, with that, what are you gonna do?

By Kevin Flaherty '16
Kevin Flaherty '16