Whole U. is a career and life strategy agency that supports professionals through advising, workshops, and e-learning. Emerson’s Career Development Center has worked with Whole U. for the past several years, promoting their opportunities to students and facilitating many internship connections with the company.
As we prepare for Whole U.’s attendance at our Spring Virtual Internship Fairs (Learn More), our team wanted to take a moment to touch base with one of Whole U.’s former interns and current contract employees, Amelia Young ’19, to share more about this outstanding company.
How did you get connected with Whole U.?
Amelia: “The first time I interned with Whole U. was the Summer of 2018, or the Summer before my Senior year. I had originally met Shannon O’Brien as her babysitter. We met while I was working in the daycare facility at Equinox, which is right by Emerson and Shannon’s daughter was a part of the program there. I started babysitting for Shannon and we just started talking about what we do and I learned about Whole U.
The Summer was approaching and I reached out to Shannon and said, ‘ I’m looking for internships. Do you know of anything?’ I figured she’d be a solid contact because she’s such a great connector of people and has such a good network in Boston.
She told me she knew some people but also asked if I would like to come work for her. That internship was the beginning of our beautiful relationship. Then this whole pandemic thing happened and we still stayed in touch as friends. She knew I was home from California and kind of offered me this gig. I think it was a time where we both wanted to work with each other again.”
What were your first steps after graduating from Emerson College?
Amelia: “I didn’t immediately think of Whole U. I mean, Shannon is a career coach, so obviously I was reaching out to her as a resource and friend. I think that’s one of the great things about working with her in any capacity – as a client, an intern or a contract worker: she will always be in your corner to shoot you contacts.
She knew for me that my goal was to break into an agency. I graduated in December 2019 from ELA and I had been interning at a production company, but I had really been trying to get into UTA since August. After many touch points with UTA throughout my semester in LA, and a lot of persistence, in February I joined UTA’s internship. It was a lot of putting all my eggs in one basket, which I don’t necessarily recommend for everybody.
I’m still currently in a waiting game because my internship with them ended during the pandemic. I finished it remotely on the east coast and they’re now in a hiring freeze. I’m still in contact with UTA, but it’s just a matter of when things will reopen and if they will be taking a new class of agent trainees.
In the meantime, it was great that I was able to jump back in with Shannon. It’s great that I’m able to work with Whole U. while I PA on sets. I really thought I was going to have to do things way outside of my industry during the pandemic, so I feel fortunate for Whole U. and the flexibility it allows me.”
What are some of the differences of working as an employee versus an intern?
Amelia: “Shannon’s an awesome communicator. Every time that somebody is on boarded the interviews goes something like, ‘What do you know? What do you need? What would you like to get out of this position? What would you like to work on?’ So coming into that as a contract role, I was able to ask for new experiences in public relations and marketing, which I hadn’t really done before. It’s something I didn’t really get to touch on in my internship but was something that I was passionate enough, especially with a company I’m such a fan of.
I would say the biggest difference is finding my own tasks rather than being in the comfort zone as an intern and just showing up to work every day to hear, ‘Here’s what I’d like you to work on.’ Right now we’re fully remote and it really is just a lot more freedom and independence to hear from Shannon, ‘I would like to see these returns and you can do them in any way that you see fit.’
I know the company more, so I definitely feel more comfortable speaking on behalf of it. I can speak more as a person in my role, rather than just like an intern, if that makes sense.”
How would you describe the work culture at Whole U.?
Amelia: “It’s highly collaborative. The company truly follows the belief that everybody is a master of something and that everybody has certain strengths that they are the best at and can teach everybody else.
That’s across the board. Even though Shannon is the CEO and founder, she’s still the best person for collaboration and the best person at asking for help, which I think a lot of people struggle with. She’s definitely a great example of being like, ‘I’m working on this. If anybody has any insight into how they can help, the more the merrier.’”
What excites you the most about the role?
Amelia: “I just love the opportunities that I’m getting and that Whole U. is getting to grow and become something that’s not just a fixture in Boston, but also a fixture worldwide. I think with the pandemic and how everything is remote people aren’t just needing to look up career coaches in their area anymore. It’s more global than just area-wide.”
Do you have any advice for current students preparing for their job search?
Amelia: “I’m somebody who internalizes things, so I distinctly remember the feeling going into the Summer of 2018 and not having anything. It was the first time I decided I was really going to look for an internship over just a job in a restaurant to save money for the year.
All of the internships I got were of emails I sent to really close people in my life because, rather than internalize it, I actually voiced it and said, ‘I’m really stressed and have nothing. I’m trying to find something and here’s my resume. I’m down to learn, but the routes I’m taking aren’t working and I need help.’
There isn’t going to be anything better than reaching out to somebody and, on the other end, there’s nothing better than setting up somebody who you know is a hard worker in a role that they’re going to be a good fit for. There shouldn’t be any guilt in reaching out or needing to ask for help because most people are really eager to follow up and support you.”