Gustie Network, LinkedIn Lead to New Career for Young Alum

Maret Freeman '92 recruited Carolyn Del Vecchio '17 to a public policy career in Portland, ME, after the two connected on LinkedIn.
Posted on October 30th, 2019 by

Maret Freeman '92 recently hired Carolyn Del Vecchio '17 after the two connected on LinkedIn.

Maret Freeman '92 recently hired Carolyn Del Vecchio '17 after the two connected on LinkedIn.

Gustavus Adolphus College alumna Carolyn Del Vecchio was scrolling through LinkedIn last spring when a few key phrases caught her eye. “Proposal writer.” “Government contracting.” It was a growing company. Intrigued, the former political science major clicked on the post.

A few days earlier and a thousand miles to the east in Portland, Maine, Maret Freeman ’92 sat down in her office at BerryDunn, the largest full-service accounting and consulting firm in northern New England, and shared a job opening in the Gustavus Adolphus College Career Community group on LinkedIn.

Carolyn Del Vecchio

Carolyn Del Vecchio

Del Vecchio, who used the knowledge and writing skills she honed in the Department of Political Science to win a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant grant to serve in Vietnam after graduation, thought the position as a proposal writer and business development specialist was a perfect fit. After returning from Vietnam and working as a Citizen Assistance Analyst for the Office of the Minnesota Attorney General, Del Vecchio wanted to find a career where she could work for a private company while remaining in the world of public affairs. According to the job posting, working at BerryDunn would let her do both.

She reached out to Freeman, and the two traded messages before setting up a call. They talked for almost an hour.

“I could tell Carolyn had the background we’re looking for—between her political science studies and work at the attorney general’s office,” said Freeman, who has been with BerryDunn since 2005. She currently leads a team of 20 proposal managers, writers, editors, and business development specialists who research new contract opportunities, write business proposals, and meet with potential clients. Del Vecchio is the latest addition to Freeman’s team.

Though they graduated 25 years apart, the two Gusties connected over their shared experiences on—and off—the hill. Freeman majored in English and communication studies, sang in the Chapel Choir, and worked in the Writing Center. Del Vecchio was a Gustie Greeter orientation leader, performed in the Handbell Choir, and served on the Building Bridges committee. Freeman came to Gustavus from neighboring Iowa; Del Vecchio from North Dakota. They both studied abroad as undergrads and worked internationally after graduation, Freeman in England and New Zealand and Del Vecchio in Tanzania and Vietnam. They share a passion for writing and public policy.

“After talking with Maret, I immediately felt comfortable with the position and with her as a supervisor,” said Del Vecchio, who did a video interview and flew to Portland to interview in person before being offered a position with the fast-growing firm.

Maret Freeman '92

Maret Freeman

Then, she set about the task of moving across the country, finalizing a lease on a new apartment and packing up her things. With a population of 66,000 that supports a metropolitan area of half a million people, Portland is the largest city in Maine and is consistently recognized for its walkability, restaurant scene, arts, and access to the outdoors. The BerryDunn office where Freeman and Del Vecchio work is located in the Old Port district, just a block from the waterfront.

Del Vecchio is assigned to BerryDunn’s local government team, which provides consulting services to cities, counties, police departments, and other smaller governmental units. With clients across the country, her job is to learn about the government organization’s needs, take a deep dive into research, and write proposals that clearly and concisely show how BerryDunn can help.

Proposal writing takes a deft touch. Part research paper and part sales pitch, each document has to be vetted by the legal team and client-facing project managers before it sees the light of day. “It’s kind of like writing academic papers,” Del Vecchio explained. “A lot of heads-down research and writing goes into developing proposals, but it’s important work that outlines how we can help government entities and consequently citizens,” Freeman added.

BerryDunn provides accounting services, project management, and consulting on issues ranging from Medicaid to state-level health and human services to gaming and lottery to K-12 education, but for Del Vecchio, the opportunity to work on small-government issues is especially rewarding.

“Local governments make such an impact on people’s lives but we don’t always recognize it,” she said. “This is a way to provide a service to people by supporting the communities they live in.”

For Freeman, hiring Del Vecchio has been a testament to the power of LinkedIn, mentorship, and the Gustie network.

“It’s a joy to have Gustie on the team who shares a connection to the ‘College on the Hill’ and embodies the Gustavus spirit,” Freeman said.


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication Luc Hatlestad


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