Prospective Students

Olivia Rubino-Finn

Graduation Year: 2014
Majors & Minors: Joint Major in History & French, Minor in Women's Studies

Rubino-Finn

Alumni

Why did you choose history as your major?

The History major is teeming with possibilities – you can study virtually any time period or historical figure/phenomenon that piques your interest, thanks to Rutgers’ wide-ranging course options. More importantly, you learn how to read, write, and think critically and precisely (a dying art in the 21st century). And Rutgers’ History/French joint major option was the perfect fit for my long-standing love of the French language.

What did you like most about it?

Definitely the relationships with my professors and personal attention. Although the department is huge, I found it a really intimate and welcoming environment, full of intellectual rigor. I also relished the flexibility I was allowed in my approach to the discipline – I’m much more interested in historical theory and historiography than close readings of texts or micro-focused studies of historical figures, for example, and I was pretty much given free rein to pursue that interest at Rutgers. I can give no better example than the senior honors thesis, an intensely grueling and challenging process that allowed me to throw myself into a topic of my choosing (that was very different from the topics chosen by my classmates) and cultivate a really rewarding relationship with my advisor.

What is your current position, what do you, and what do you enjoy most about it?

I’m a project manager for an editorial agency that creates content for law firms, universities, and nonprofits. Overseeing our editorial projects from top to bottom means I build storyboards, hire and manage freelance writers, edit all copy, and generally keep the trains running on time in production. I also do some writing when I’m in the mood – usually articles on university faculty research.

What was your first job after Rutgers and how did you get it?

I started out as an intern-turned-assistant at Foresight Theatrical, the office that manages Les Mis, Phantom, Kinky Boots, and more on Broadway. I’ve always been a passionate theatre fan and I interned at several Broadway marketing and management offices during college, giving me the industry connections to jump on the internship opening at Foresight when it opened up.

How did you move from that first job to your current position?

I realized that theatre work wasn’t up my alley – I was mostly booking rehearsal rooms, handling accounting duties, and doing lots and lots of filing. (Some people thrive on that stuff, but I feel a lot more fulfilled when I’m creating a product of sorts.) After a year and a half in the position, I quit and decided to pursue something in a different field. A chance posting on Facebook led me to interview for my current position, which was then a 10 hours/week admin assistant gig and has since transformed into a manager-level full-time job.

Looking back, what classes or experiences at Rutgers would you point to as contributing to your successes?

The fall of my sophomore year, I wanted to take “The Terror and the French Revolution,” a senior seminar taught by Jennifer Jones. I approached Professor Jones and asked if I could take the class early on in my track, given my keen interest in the topic and desire to really push myself intellectually, and she agreed. This class was a wonderful opportunity to sit down with a small group of students and chew on cerebral questions about cultural, social, political, military, and feminist history. Although I was two years younger than the rest of my classmates, I felt I could keep up with the work and depth of thought required, which did a lot for my confidence level. (And shout-out to Professor Jones, who was always the most encouraging, positive, and supportive mentor anyone could ask for.)
Finally, the senior thesis was, to date, one of the most demanding yet enriching experiences of my life – a massive 75-page project for which I consulted about 90 sources and 50 secondary sources, requiring meticulous organizational and time management skills and a solid foundation in historical theory (largely self-taught along the way), as well as constant self-reassurance that I could actually pull this thing off. Collaborating with my advisor, Seth Koven, was easily the highlight of my Rutgers career. During the nine months that we communicated regularly to work on my thesis, he proved to be not only a brilliant and gifted teacher, but also a uniquely generous and inspiring mentor. (I often felt a strange adrenaline rush when walking out of his office after one of our weekly meetings, even when my ideas had been soundly decimated.) Professor Koven never accepted anything less than excellence – whenever I thought I had reached my intellectual limits, he always pushed me to surpass them and strive for perfection. While my student days are long behind me, I continue to put his advice and pedagogical techniques to use in my own life, both of which have never failed to encourage my love of learning.

What advice do you have for our current Arts and Sciences students?

Never say no – take a chance on any opportunity you can find or that’s thrust upon you, even if you don’t think you’re up to the task. You will surprise yourself! And you are your own best advocate. If you want to study something special or pursue a cool experience or change your degree track, make a case for it and, crucially, be tenacious. 

Return to Prospective Students Page