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Alumni Spotlight: Frank Taylor ’10

We chatted with Frank Taylor '10 about what he has been up to since graduation and his current work in legal areas, politics and the department of justice.
Where have you been Frank since your graduation from SC in 2010?  What college or university did you attend and what was your experience like.

After SC, I’m glad and grateful to say that I attended Northeastern University, which could not have been a better fit for me. I’m eternally grateful for the cooperative education program that forced me to take my academics and future more seriously than I had for much of my life. It forced an importance onto all aspects of my time there, particularly in the first year and a half. Knowing that potential employers will be evaluating you based on 3 semesters of grades and whatever random jobs you worked in high school creates an odd sense of excitement and dread that fostered a drive to be more serious.

Oddly, I never particularly felt like I’d necessarily fallen in love with my college, and don’t harbor the desire to be back in school that’s seemingly common among my peers. There’s a sense of comfort that comes with working on a schedule, and not having term papers. I don’t think I could ever go back to the stress of waiting up at night for grades to go out. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it, though. I’ve made wonderful friends I’ll know forever, and I don’t think I’ll ever be as giddy as I was having one-on-one conversations with Michael Dukakis - the 1988 U.S. Democratic Presidential candidate.

It seems that you have been working in legal areas, politics and the department of justice.  Tell us what you are doing and where you hope to go.  Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years?

So, I worked four internships in my time in college, which included a six month stint at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, part of the Department of Justice. I was an intern on the public corruption floor, the same floor as the famously fired Preet Bharara. I also worked with an ex-student of Mr. Schrode’s from his Harvard Westlake days, and a student who went to Mr. Fennell’s old school in New York - Packer Collegiate InstituteSmall world.

Though my job in a legal office at 19 primarily involved scanning documents, I spent a chunk of time shadowing and interacting with brilliant attorneys - some of whom now work on special counsel Mueller’s team. I then shifted into working for three politicians in three different capacities that don’t offer any exciting anecdotes.

Those jobs all taught me, through a bit of soul-searching, that I should be working in strategy and communications. I wound up accepting an offer at a small financial public relations firm in August 2015. In short, my job entails working to help my clients present themselves in the best possible light to whatever their target audience may be. It’s a bit of a nebulous definition for what we do, but probably is the most accurate, succinct way to describe it. My day can be spent sitting in my cubicle working on administrative documents and spreadsheets, or out and about at the major media headquarters in New York for multiple meetings.

<>As for where I’ll be in five to ten years from now? I’d say the same thing I told my now-employer when I interviewed. I’ve moved cities four times in five years, and have moved apartments four times since getting to NY. I have no idea where I’ll be in four months, let alone five years. The only certainty I know is that I’ve finally made it to that NY mecca of both living alone and having an in-unit washer/dryer, and will never go back to the dark ages of roommates and laundromats.

What was your experience like at SC?  Are there courses or extracurricular activities that impacted you?  Do you keep in touch with classmates and/or friends you made at SC... and is that important to you?  Are there any teachers, staff members or other at SC who impacted you?

In truth, my academic experience at SC was rough - I didn’t have the motivation freshman or sophomore year to take my classes particularly seriously. If memory serves, one mid-semester review included a letter home from Mr. Winetrobe noting simply: “Frank did not do the necessary work to succeed.” I often feel like I owe a debt of gratitude to most every teacher I had for not letting me fall through the cracks, but would be remiss if I didn’t give a special shoutout to Mr. Winetrobe, Mr. Fennell, Ms. Ellis, Mr. Schrode, and Dr. Rohrbach, whose recommendation (far more glowing than I’d deserved) helped push Northeastern to accept me, as I’d later found out.

Regarding my classmates and friends, I’ve made connections I’m sure I’ll be close with for the rest of my life. I also found that as I finished up college, I became much closer to a lot of my classmates than I was at SC.

You have been living in NYC now for a while.  Was it difficult to adjust to life in the big city on the East Coast?  How do you compare it to Southern California living?  

As my coworkers, friends, peers, and local barista will tell you, I’m not a fan, and plenty vocal about it. Being primarily trapped in the valley until 18, the allure of the east coast was strong when applying to colleges, and I didn’t apply to a single school in California. Something about red bricks and quads and snow all just felt like it was the right college experience. So I went to Boston, which was fun, but too small to be somewhere I would stay for long. New York has been a fine city for me to grow and work and learn in, and it’s certainly been easy to feed my love of food here, but there’s a pervasive seriousness that I never felt in LA and that I’m not certain I’ll ever fully get used to. Also driving is infinitely better than the subway.

What advice would you give to current SC students, especially seniors who are facing choices about college and their future careers 

The best advice I can give is to say that the oft-spewed platitude “It will all work out in the end” is nonsense. You have to take real steps to achieve what you want to get out of life.

As a bit of practical advice, there is one single thing that cannot be overstated in importance: Get a job, then get another one, and get some more. Applying for internships is much less daunting that it may appear, and volunteer work is immensely helpful in the job search. Political campaigns, soup kitchens, environmental groups and any number of organizations need labor and offer flexible hours. Even if it only involves a few hours every week on a Sunday, it cannot be overstated how important it is to have a work history to show on a resume. You’ll often hear peers lament that “entry level” jobs are now requiring 1-2 years of work experience. Get ahead of those complaints by getting jobs as early and often as you can.

Crucially, though, don’t dwell on the past. This applies to those who have both done well and those who have not. Throughout your life, you will be judged most critically on your most recent achievements. Don’t take that to mean that it’s a great idea to goof off and make up for it later, but do recognize that it’s never too late to turn around most mistakes you may make.

Please add anything else you might like to say....

Any Sierra Canyoner who has questions or wants to connect, I’m always happy to chat. I’m sure Tom Fennell would be more than glad to put you in touch, and I’m happy to offer whatever, likely small, amount of help or advice I can.
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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.