Adventure cartoonist Lucy Bellwood '12 draws her own career path.
Adventure cartoonist Lucy Bellwood '12 draws her own career path.

Defining Your Own Career

Alumni discuss ways to navigate self-made career paths.

By Katelyn Best '13 | June 19, 2017

Saturday of Reunions 2017, Reedies of many generations flocked—or rather, in classic Reed conference fashion, trickled—into the panel A Different Drummer: Reedies Navigating Self-Made Career Paths. By the end of the panel’s two-hour time slot, the classroom was standing-room only, and the wide-ranging discussion was still going strong. 

The panel consisted of five Reedies of diverse backgrounds:

  • John Ullman ’65 is retired from a career in molecular genetics, consumer and environmental activism, and representing storytellers and folk musicians.
  • John Vergin ’78 is a musician, actor, composer, and teacher who currently teaches voice lessons at Reed.
  • Brian Graham-Jones ’81 is the head of research analysis and reporting for New York City’s Medicaid system, following a long career as a dancer, waiter, salesman, emergency management specialist, and aerospace engineer.
  • Lucy Bellwood ’12 is an “adventure cartoonist,” creator of comics that explore wooden whaling ships, social dance, sensory deprivation, and other delights.
  • Lillian Karabaic ’13 teaches personal finance to young people and creative entrepreneurs (among her clients: a cat interpretive dancer, which is exactly what it sounds like).

As one might expect from such an eclectic group, the conversation covered a multitude of topics. One common theme was the importance of learning to run a freelance career as a business. As a financial advisor, Karabaic has a unique perspective on this: “A lot of my clients are terrified of business,” she said. “They end up nannying and they don’t file because they think taxes are, like, oppressive. But in reality the government would have been paying them.”

Another thread was learning to leverage the Reed community for support. “What,” Ullman asked the group, “are you getting out of this incredible group of people who are going to come into your life over and over?”

You can strengthen the Reed network—and take advantage of it—by joining the Reed Career Network through the Center for Life Beyond Reed. Other great resources include the Reed Switchboard and career affinity groups (Reedies in journalism, Reed librarians, Reedies in tech, etc.)

Tags: Alumni, Life Beyond Reed