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Michelle Kravets (SC '10) on helping others, staying connected, and embracing change

Nicole Arca
Michelle Kravets values long-lasting friendships and connections - from Sierra Canyon and Wesleyan University, to Epsilon, where she works as Strategic Consultant. Read more about Kravets in this week's spotlight.

Michelle Kravets majored in Government and Russian at Wesleyan University, thinking she would become a paralegal at a law firm after graduation. However, she found her niche in Marketing and now serves as a Strategic Consulant at one of the largest global marketing companies in the world.

Read on about Michelle and how her time at SC influenced her college choice and professional trajectory.  

According to LinkedIn, you’re currently a Strategic Consultant for Epsilon. Could you tell us more about what you do there, and what got you interested in your job?

I am a Strategic Consultant on the Research & Insights team for Epsilon's Agency division. A bit of a long description but what I do is fairly straight forward! Basically a company will come to Epsilon for their research needs if they need help figuring out how to better interact with their consumers to get the most bang for their buck. My job is, first, to conduct secondary research, using case studies and previously recorded data on similar brands/companies to find what the general landscape is. Then, I focus on conducting primary research, creating surveys, running focus groups, etc. to get a more concrete, interpersonal answer as to "why" this consumer shops they way they do. Based on the data we gather, we can make a knowledgeable recommendation to the client on who they should be advertising to, how, and where. 
I had a little bit of a unique job hunting experience when I was applying to jobs my senior year. I was a Government/Russian double major at Wesleyan and had my sights set on being a paralegal at a law firm after I graduated. After speaking to a number of [Wesleyan] alumni who had gone the law school route, I realized that profession wasn't for me. BUT I found myself jobless and unsure which direction I wanted to go in February of my senior year - pretty scary. One evening, my friends and I decided to go to a presentation given by a [Wesleyan] alum who was now a CEO of a Fortune 500 company, Alliance Data. Listening to him speak about the impact of big data and how it's changing the way companies do marketing really piqued my interest. I thought it would be super interesting to figure out how companies know exactly how to communicate to people, how they make them buy their products, and how they keep their customers loyal... so I applied to a job at their sister company, Epsilon, and here I am today!  
How was your college experience? Did you time at SC influence where you ultimately chose to go to college?

My college experience was the best ever. I wouldn't trade it for anything! Going on the East Coast College Tour through Sierra Canyon’s College Counseling Office helped me narrow down my decision of places I wanted to apply, but from the moment I set foot on Wesleyan's campus, I knew it was the place for me. 
My time at Sierra Canyon 100% influenced where I chose to go to college. Being a part of such a tight-knit community at SC was the best part about it; it's a place where your classes are so small that your teachers become your friends and your friends become your family. And I knew that I wanted to be in a similar type of environment for my next four years in college. At Wesleyan, I was able to make long-lasting connections with advisers and professors - even going over to their house for dinner! And I absolutely made friends to last me a lifetime. 
One of the most important things I learned in high school was the importance of helping others, through all different types of community service, and I wanted to emulate that in my college experience. At Wesleyan, I made it a point to involve myself with groups/clubs that would help me achieve this goal. Over the next four years, I tutored kids at a local middle school twice a week, volunteered at a local senior living facility, served as a teacher's assistant for a number of courses, and (outside of the Wesleyan network) tutored a gentleman in the Russian language who was moving overseas for work. It was an extremely rewarding experience, especially tutoring those middle school students, some of whom I am still connected with today!

What are your most memorable experiences from Sierra Canyon? Any faculty or staff that particularly impacted your academic and professional interests?

Is it bad that some of my most memorable experiences at SC were our senior pranks? Just kidding! 
But actually, a lot of my most memorable experiences from SC revolve around the times my grade, or even the whole campus, came together for some sort of bonding activity - X-night, for example, was one of the most fun. I have never heard of another school doing anything like that! Another one would definitely be our trip to Hawaii senior year. It was so nice to see everyone bonding - high school is a really weird time so whenever that happens, in retrospect, it was super awesome!
In terms of faculty that impacted me, there are definitely a few. Mr. Fennell helped me figure out how much I liked learning languages, and is probably one of the reasons I wasn't extra lazy and ended up taking Russian as my second major in college (I could speak but not read/write), instead of just sticking with Government. Mr. Schrode and Ms. Ellis both showed me how to read books to get so much more out of them than what's simply written on the page, and the creative writing techniques that I learned inspired me to take a creative writing class at Wesleyan my senior spring, which ended up being one of my top 3 favorite classes I had taken over the entire four years. Last but not least, Ms. Brown and Mr. Winetrobe were the reasons why I chose US Government as my major - I learned so much in Ms. Brown's AP US History class my junior year, followed by AP US Government with Mr. Winetrobe my senior year, and I knew that I wanted to continue learning, and go even deeper in college. 
When you’re not working, what do you like to do?

When I'm not working I'm either traveling to other places - I love to travel! - or exploring everything NYC has to offer! The NYC food scene is HUGE and I am a big foodie, so I'm always out and about trying new places. I also love going to concerts, outdoor movie theaters, and watching sports - especially baseball in the summer! There is absolutely never a dull moment. 
Do you have any advice to graduating seniors who are headed to the East Coast for college?

It's the best decision ever! I have never regretted it for a single second. There may be times when you feel slightly homesick - change scares everyone - but this experience will make you so independent, you will be able to take on anything that challenges you in the future! Be open, try new things, immerse yourself in the total college experience and you won't have a single regret. You will gain so many new friends, and so many new opportunities! Your future is SO bright!
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Sierra Canyon School is a private, independent, non-sectarian, co-educational, college preparatory school for students in grades Pre-Kindergarten through 12 located in Chatsworth, California. The highly cosmopolitan campus community is reflective of the Greater Los Angeles area and the world at large. Students are empowered to realize their greatest creative, ethical, intellectual and physical promise through small class sizes, a diverse student-teacher culture and a family-like environment.