A Path to the Unconventional

How One Advisor Provides Insight on an Entrepreneurial Freelance Career

Diana Band, a 2009 UMass Amherst graduate, worked in the hallowed halls of book publishing before striking out on her own—and showing others that the path to success could be both inspired and self-directed.

After an internship at what is now known as Penguin Random House, Diana worked various publishing jobs before transitioning into freelancing. Diana was able to use the editorial skills gleaned from her work experience and time at UMass to pursue a flexible and self-directed role, one that has allowed her to move to Colorado and continue taking on work that she loves.

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“If you’re passionate about something, you’re going to be great at it,” Diana says. “You have to listen to what your natural drive is. Focus on what makes you happy, and the path will make its way.”

Given how instrumental her experience in the UMass English department was to her career development, Diana always knew that she wanted to give back. Diana signed on as an advisor for the UMass Amherst Alumni Advisor Network, where she helps students and alumni looking to change paths or explore new careers. One of those advisees was a young alumnus who had a career in software sales but was looking to make a move.

The difficulty, Diana notes, is that most students live in the academic bubble up until graduation—even internships are very different than the jobs that come after. That makes it difficult for students to develop accurate impressions of certain industries on their own. The same goes for students looking to switch industries.

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Rose Arslanian ('17), a pre-med student, understood this blind spot, and used the UMass Amherst Alumni Advisor Network to help correct it. At the advice of her Student Alumni Association advisor, Rose signed up for a resume critique, and learned specific traits that professionals in her field would be looking for.

“I think it’s incredible that there are UMass alumni who work fulltime and have specialized careers, and are willing to invest in someone like me,” Rose shares. “It’s really great to know that I have a resource like that available to me.”

As an advisor, Diana is happy to have the chance to give back by mentoring students. “It’s been one of the best experiences I’ve had in postgraduate life,” she said. As an alumni advisor, she’s able to inspire others to look beyond the limitations they’ve imposed on themselves and see all the possibilities before them.

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