Joanne Frangias: Swiss Army Knife


We are pressured to know what we want our future to look like.  We are accustomed to hearing the phrase: What are you studying in school?  This is immediately followed up with: What do you plan to do with that or Where do you want to work?  We pick specialties early on, but what happens when that does not pan out?  Will we be prepared to tackle something new?  Here is a good example of how we should plan for this uncertain future.

Joanne Frangias was born to Greek immigrants in the city of Peabody in Massachusetts. She went through the Peabody Public School system through grade twelve.  She became class president her junior and senior years. She took her job extremely seriously, even when others did not. She always had a strong interest in politics and could be heard jokingly stating that she one day wanted to become the “Queen Dictator of the World.”  In all seriousness, she had her heart set on career as a legislative aid with a focus in international policy. Before heading off to college, all she would talk about was a career in the government.

Then reality set in. With her heart set on attending George Washington University, located right in the heart of Washington DC, she was denied. Although this was her dream school, she decided to pick up the pieces and attend her third choice school, American University, also in Washington DC.  Joanne stated “I was unhappy because I hate failing, but I was happy that I ended up at American.  I believe everything happens for a reason.”

With one dream still alive, she embarked on an internship on Capitol Hill.  She interned for a Tea Party Republican, (she is not a member of this political party) Michael Grimm.  She spent most of time walking the congressman’s dog and answering angry phone calls.  After six long months of this, she realized this was not for her. “I realized that my favorite part of the job was the fact that I got a special access card to the building. I knew that my heart was not in this field,” she explained. Cue the major change. After interning at Compass Point Retirement Planning in Wakefield, MA, she became interested in finance. Frangias became excited to commit the rest of her college career to the field of finance.

After committing to her studies, she applied for several internships, eventually hoping to end up somewhere in Boston. She got denied from the biggest one she applied to, JP Morgan. She also did not even hear back from most she applied too. She did, however, hear back from State Street in Boston. “I was surprised I got the position because I thought my phone interview did not go very well,” she stated.  Her time at State Street morphed this position into her dream job.  “The experience was awesome. I loved the work I was doing and I loved the location in Boston. Being on the 34th made me feel powerful. I was also the only women in my department, which was something that I had to get used too” she explains.

After impressing her boss at State Street the summer before her last semester of college, she was offered a position there that would start in June.  She happily accepted.  Now most, last semester seniors might use this as an opportunity to slack off a bit, or to take a little break. Well, Frangias did quite the opposite. Until her final day at college, she served a Resident Assistant.  She did this job for two years as a way to save her parents money.  “I was extremely grateful to have them pay for my college education, so I figured I would help them in any way that I could,” she explains. She also served as VP of Administration and Finance for her entire school.  She had a budget of $110,000 dollars and had to decide how to spend it.  She spent it on things like student programs.  ”I was able to make their debt of $50,000 to $0 during my time,” she states.

She also spent time as a cheerleading coach at a prestigious elementary school in Washington DC.  She did this job for three years and gained experience working at a school and with young children.  On top of all this, she worked as a desk receptionist for her building.  “I mostly dealt with drunk students who forgot their ids,” she explained.  Since someone always had to be at the desk, she would sometimes work into the wee hours of the morning or late at night.

She returned home as a college graduate in the winter of 2016.  Again, she could have sat around and caught up on some sleep, but she decided to stay busy.  She would help her father at his used-car dealership, dealing mostly with money and the organizational aspect.  She also picked up hours at Compass Point Retirement Planning.  “I interned there before and they helped me gain my passion for finance, so I was glad I could come back and stay in practice,” she states.  Her boss at Compass, Kate Glidden said this about her: “She is very enthusiastic and is youthful and brings a lot of energy to the office.  She never backs down from a challenge and is always on hand to help us with whatever we need. We wish we weren’t losing her to State Street.”  She also got a part time job at Minos Roast Beef in Lynn, MA as a frialator and a cashier.  Her boss at Minos, Denise said this about her: “I was struggling for consistency at my place and she generously offered her time. Her work shows through even in something as simple as working at a fast food restaurant. The other employees look up to her even thoughshe has only been here a short time.” Frangias believes that all of these jobs have helped her get her foot into a lot of different doors.  “I feel like I have experience in a couple different of fields, which may help me down the line, if a career change comes about,” she explains.

Along with working, she has made time to travel.  Recently she has made trips to St. Maarten, Iceland, and an upcoming trip to Barcelona.  In the last couple years, she has made trips to England, Ireland, Wales, and Greece. “The most important thing is to realized that people live differently and this has helped me appreciate where I have grown up and embrace people’s differences and different cultures,” she states.

With all of these commitments, one may wonder if there is any time for “fun.”  “At college, I often let my school work and jobs take over.  I was not working out, eating properly, or getting the right amount of sleep.  With the help of friends, I came up with a better plan to balance my life out,” she explains.  She is now an avid runner (or as she says “jogger”), and Netflix guru, who also has a strong interest in politics.  For her friends, she is the go to contact for political advice, resume help, and financial questions.

In this life, nothing is certain.  We must prepare for anything to happen.  Gaining experience in something as small as being a desk receptionist or a cheerleading coach may become helpful in the future as shown to us by Frangias.


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