During his senior year, Dylan O’Neil ’20 signed up for connectGettysburg—Gettysburg College’s online engagement, networking, and mentoring platform—at the urging of some friends and track and field teammates. He wasn’t quite sure what to expect from the new platform, but as the COVID-19 pandemic coincided with his job search, he invested his time in lockdown into building his Gettysburg Network, virtually, and his efforts were rewarded. He landed a job.
“The platform showed me that other individuals from Gettysburg had followed career paths that I was interested in and made it easy to reach out to them. On a platform like LinkedIn, it can be intimidating to message individuals, but with connectGettysburg there is something reassuring about having a shared experience that makes connecting that much easier,” said O’Neil, who majored in anthropology and minored in political science.
By virtue of his major and minor, O’Neil unearthed a passion for immigration law, and from an internship with a resettlement agency in Florence, Italy, to publishing a research paper in his anthropology capstone on refugee resettlement, his time at Gettysburg College allowed him to deeply explore this interest. Knowing immigration was a path he wanted to continue pursuing after graduation, when he stumbled upon Andrew Shapiro-Zysk ’99 on connectGettysburg, he immediately sent him a message.
“Dylan reached out to me because of his interest in immigration law, and I was happy to let him know more about the field and industry. I was also happy to help him secure an interview at my current firm,” said Shapiro-Zysk who majored in political science at Gettysburg and is now Senior Manager of Reporting and Data Analytics at Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP, a leading corporate immigration law firm located in San Francisco, California. “The rest was up to him. However, knowing… his Gettysburg education, I had little doubt as to his abilities.”
Leveraging the skills he gained at Gettysburg, such as time-management, his ability to work collaboratively, communicate effectively, and conduct complex research, he walked away from a series of virtual interviews with Berry Appleman & Leiden with a job as an immigration assistant.
In this role, O’Neil initiates, drafts, and files various types of immigration cases for high-level corporate clients. This involves coordinating with attorneys, other paralegals, human resources teams, and immigrants themselves to draft the necessary documents and submit them to the appropriate government agencies.
“In joining the top immigration law firm in the U.S. I have been given the opportunity to further explore what I see as one of the most interesting and salient topics of our time. Without the benefit of my Gettysburg education, I do not know if I would have found myself in this position at my age,” O’Neil said. “In the future, I would like to take my passion for immigration and discover ways to work with and influence immigration policy in a meaningful and positive way. This future is possible not only because of where I find myself now, but because of Gettysburg.”
Evidenced by the impressive experience he’s gaining at Berry Appleman & Leiden right out of college, O’Neil took advantage of all that his Gettysburg education had to offer, and continues to offer, in the closely-knit network of alumni of which he will forever be a part. And with 2,000+ members of the Gettysburg Network signed up for the connectGettysburg platform, new career-building connections like the one he made with Shapiro-Zysk exist at the fingertips of all students, parents, alumni, employees, and friends of the College.
“Unfortunately, your 4 years at Gettysburg have to come to an end, but you are forever a Gettysburgian, and that is shown through the Gettysburg network,” O’Neil said. “I believe [everyone] should take advantage of the connectGettysburg platform because you really never know, you might connect with an old friend, get to talk with an alum from your major or sports team and make a cool new connection, or you might even land a job like me.”
By Molly Foster
Photos by David Sinclair Photography/Ryan Murray and courtesy of Dylan O’Neil ’20