Fortune 500 Career


As an undergraduate, Brittany Shea '11 of Oneonta, N.Y., traveled to London where she studied at Kingston University as part of her studies in English/communications and focus on public relations. Now at Vera Bradley for the past six months, she is the operations manager at one of the company's retail stores in Boston, Mass.

In her position, Shea manages communications between the corporate office and the associates. "I also am in charge of maintaining the brand's qualities and goals," she explained. "I enjoy being on the leadership team, and I am gaining real world experience while working for a Fortune 500 company. And the perks are great, too!"

The company produces a variety of products, including quilted cotton luggage, handbags and accessories, which are sold at more than 3,500 Vera Bradley retailers and stand-alone stores.

According to Shea, her MCLA experience and the confidence she gained from living abroad during the first semester of her senior year prepared her for her career by allowing her to develop the determination to succeed, as well as a sense of independence and of adventure.

While studying at Kingston University, Shea learned about culture in the United Kingdom and experienced it first-hand by living with a British family.

Through its numerous and well-established study abroad programs, MCLA encouraged Shea to travel overseas. "I always knew I wanted to travel, and MCLA allowed me to do that," she said.

"I chose London, because I love the history and traditions that the city is famous for," Shea explained. "I wanted to take advantage of such a great opportunity and see as much as I could. It was amazing! I was able to bop over to other countries easier than I could here in the states. For just 50 Euros I was able to fly to Berlin. A three-hour train ride brought me to Paris, and on my way to Amsterdam I saw the beaches of Normandy. I also stopped by Burge, Belgium."

Shea gave herself a timeline as she planned her job search. Upon her return to MCLA for her final semester last spring, she refused to be deterred by the dismal employment predictions resulting from the nation's tough economic situation. As a result of her determination, she had her job with Vera Bradley in place prior to her graduation last May.

"I wanted to have my resume done and perfect by March, and then apply to several jobs a week," Shea explained. "I knew I wanted to be in Boston, so I looked for jobs that would place me there. I didn't really use or a search. I looked into companies that I had a personal connection with, and looked for what they had open."

Now, Shea lives in downtown Boston, where the MCLA alumni network is "very tight," she said. "I have a 10-minute commute, and I am near several of the universities. This is nice because there are a lot of fun things to do, and people are always around."

What was the best thing about her MCLA experience?

"I thrived in the small intimate environment," Shea said. "I like being able to try new things, and get involved in whatever I wanted. A large, impersonal school doesn't offer that."