If there is one message that students and parents were left with after alumna Amy Greenan’s presentation it was, “Don’t be afraid to ask.” Had the 2004 graduate not done so when she was initially rejected for a White House internship during her semester in D.C., she never would have ultimately been granted that internship. Speaking on Friday, Oct. 26, to a standing-room-only crowd of parents, students, and faculty on careers in defense intelligence, Greenan chronicled her career path from that internship and another with U.S. Senator Richard Lugar (R-Indiana), to working for alumnus and former U.S. Congressman Michael Castle ’61 to the Pentagon to defense contractors.
Greenan began her remarks by recounting that the letter she received from the White House included a phone number to call should she have any questions about her rejection. Although she felt sure that only students “with connections” received White House appointments, she decided to call and asked the individual on the other end of the line for a 20-minute meeting. The individual acquiesced, and after their meeting, the internship coordinator hired her, citing her “down-to-earth, non-elitist” approach.
“Maybe you should start applying for jobs while you are still here,” Greenan, who waited until after graduation, warned her audience. “Take full advantage of all the career center resources available while on campus. And take advantage of all the resources, the writing center, the professors.”
Not having done any career-planning while on campus, she returned home to Indiana and got a job at the Olive Garden. Finding a D.C. job from Indiana proved difficult. She ultimately bought a plane ticket, borrowed the couch of a fellow grad in D.C., and began networking in the city via alumni contacts.
Again, fearlessly asking for the opportunity, Greenan walked into Congressman Castle’s office and spoke with his chief of staff about a job. Her strategy was successful, and she began work shortly thereafter as the congressman’s scheduler. Other jobs on the Hill followed and led to a position working for the U.S. Army general counsel in the Pentagon, a job that convinced her that a career in law was not something she would be interested in pursuing.
“Being in the federal government has a lot of street credibility,” observed Greenan, but several years ago she turned to the private sector, working for defense contractors and with quite a few government agencies including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Army, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, among others. In the interim, she also earned an MBA as a part-time student at George Washington University.
A public policy major and communications minor at Hamilton, Greenan also played softball all four years she was on campus. One of the first questions she answered after her presentation was from a former teammate in a surprise reunion. Concluding her remarks, Greenan emphasized the importance of learning to write well at Hamilton. She said about working in the intelligence community, “If you are smart, you will catch on, and if you can write, you will succeed.”