Two Saint Mary’s graduates begin Orr Fellowship
Two Saint Mary’s students from the Class of 2020, Molly Ryan and Darby Harcourt, have been selected to join the Orr Fellowship, an intensive two-year, post-graduate program that combines full-time employment with professional development programming.
“Saint Mary’s has always been an advocate for the Orr Fellowship,” said Hannah Scifres, a representative of the Indianapolis-based program. “With an annual acceptance rate of 5 percent, it speaks highly of your College that your students are now Orr Fellows.”
Orr Fellows are combed from the top seniors from colleges and universities throughout Indiana and surrounding states. The selection process was rigorous, according to Ryan and Harcourt, and involved attending several interview and networking events to whittle the applicant pool down from 1,400 to the remaining 65.
Ryan, a native of Portage, MI, earned her degree in philosophy and computer applied mathematics. Simultaneously, Ryan is working on her graduate degree in data science at Saint Mary’s, which she hopes to complete in July 2021. As an Orr Fellow, she has accepted a full-time job with BlackInk IT, an information technology support company in Indianapolis.
“We were competing against all of these other seniors, who were also super talented,” Ryan said. “It was a lot of pressure; we really needed to figure out how to make ourselves stand out. Each step of the process was that much more intense.”
When selected, Orr Fellows agree to move to Indianapolis for two full years to work in a salaried position at a host company. These companies commit to mentoring the Fellows, often giving them greater responsibilities than other new hires. According to the program’s website, Fellows often get the chance to enter unique roles and rotational programs not available to other new hires.
Additionally, Orr Fellows take part in programming that focuses on community involvement, leadership and professional development. “All of this is designed to challenge, develop and propel them toward a career of excellence,” Scifres said. Those who complete their Fellowship join a network of alumni who serve as a resource network for the others. Many start their own companies and hire new Fellows.
Harcourt, a native of Whittier, CA, recently graduated with a degree in environmental studies. Though she was hired by a company, and committed to moving to Indianapolis, she recently learned her position was eliminated due to the downsizing caused by the coronavirus pandemic. She is currently awaiting her placement with a new host company.
“Due to COVID-19 several of our current and incoming Fellows have been furloughed, or had their offers rescinded, including Darby,” Scifres said. “However, these individuals are actively working with Orr Fellowship's executive director, Karyn Smitson, to find new host companies and will remain a part of Orr Fellowship.”
Harcourt is optimistic that a new position will be secured, and will take part in all programming in the meantime. “I’m disappointed for sure, but I’m not going to be down. I’m just sticking with it. I’m in a better position than a lot of other graduates, because I’m still in the Fellowship. I have this connection with people.”
Darby credits Saint Mary’s for preparing her to not only handle this change in plans, but also with her sense of confidence.
“You have to speak so much in our classes, because most of them are small,” she said. “Just having that regular interaction with other students and my professors helped me feel comfortable in this high-pressure interviewing and networking process. The person who hired me prior to COVID, said the reason he chose me was because he was so comfortable talking to me, and that I was confident when talking with him.”
Ryan agreed. “With the relationships that I’ve had with my teachers, it’s a professional relationship, but we can speak candidly with them about things that I’m interested in. It can be translated to work situations.”
For more information on the Orr Fellowship, visit OrrFellowship.org.