Headshots of Victoria "Torie" Burns and Dominic Dongilli

HPG Graduate Assistants Share Highlights, Advice on the Position

HPG’s Graduate Research Assistants Victoria (Torie) Burns (AY 2019-20) and Dominic Dongilli (AY 2020-21) “sat down” over email to discuss their time as HPG GRA’s. Read what they have to say about their own professional development and the advice they have for the AY 2021-2022 applicants!

 One skill or experience that has stuck with you in unexpected ways? 

Torie Burns (TB): I found that planning skill-based events like our networking workshop for graduate students was eye-opening. These events let me connect with other students across campus and gave me insight into how knowledge and expertise look across disciplines. 

Dominic Dongilli (DD): Working virtually during the pandemic, managing information and facilitating project cohesion stand at the forefront of my experience. Our team is transitioning and the grant is honing in on targeted interventions – I think a lot about bringing “multiple spinning wheels” together and the incremental steps of large-scale processes.

The most enjoyable or unexpected fun moment of the experience? 

TB: Every team-based project, from a symposium to an end-of-semester dinner. I didn’t expect to love working with the HPG team so much—it never felt like “work” because everyone on the team was so wonderful. 

DD: From cohorts to classrooms, graduate students know that the community can make or break an experience and the Obermann Team does not disappoint! Working with the Mellon Postdocs Ashley Cheyemi McNeil and Laura Perry has produced too many gems to count – humor, advice and joy!

A quick piece of advice for those who are applying? 

TB: Think about how your academic skills translate into workplace skills. Teaching a course translates into project management, organizational, leadership, and public speaking skills at the bare minimum!

DD: Definitely what Torie said! Skills are not a zero-sum game. Your experience managing a WordPress site may be minimal, but your experience as a graduate student has given you significant perspective on student and applicant information needs; media environments that facilitate community and knowledge acquisition; and tracking the progress of a given project!