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Kindred Spirits

March 30, 2012
By Amy Goetzman

Quintessentially Carleton qualities connect two alums separated by 20 years

When he set out to hire a new junior consultant for his firm’s first Latin American office, Mark Frein ’92 could easily have recruited at the Ivy Leagues. “But I’d probably be looking at people with attitude,” he says, with an apologetic laugh. “I knew I could trust in the ‘product’ I would get out of Carleton. I wanted someone smart, driven, not stuffy—they’d have that pleasant Carleton outlook on life.”

Personality is a central asset at the Refinery, where Frein guides a team of consultants who help global companies develop better leaders. “We do that in a lot of quirky ways. We have them play games, we lead them through unique experiences together, we help people develop their own sensibility about what it means to lead,” he says. “One quality all leaders must have is that open-mindedness and a liberal attitude about the way they look at the world that helps them see possibilities. That’s very core to the Carleton mindset.”

That realization led Frein to pay attention to Carleton’s Engagement Wanted program. Through the program, students post spirited mini-profiles to a weekly list-serv that goes out to prospective employers and Carleton alumni.

Evan Rowe ’09, a member of the Career Center Alumni Board, says part of the Engagement Wanted program’s success lies in the fact that alumni know what to expect from Carleton grads, and feel a bond with them. “There is something undeniable about the common experience that people share in Northfield, and the sense of responsibility we generally feel towards each other.  These close connections create a real sense of comfort and confidence—to pass along a resumé, to talk to a student, or to make a job offer.”

Will Tynan ’11, a Career Advisor with the Career Center last year, ran a workshop to help students write winning profiles for the list-serv. “I wanted to show them that these profiles should really express their personality, so I created a sample blurb for myself,” he says. “I described my skills, including Spanish, said I was ‘strong-backed,’ and loved travel.”

He wasn’t terribly serious about it, since he already had a job offer. But Tynan’s sample profile went out with the rest, and captured Frein’s attention. “I sent Will an email, two days later we had an interview over Skype—I think he was sitting on his bed in his dorm room. We had a great conversation. I asked him if he’d fly to Vancouver and learn about our business. Three days later he was on a plane,” Frein says. “Our firm requires a dynamic approach to life and work, and that willingness to jump in and do something nuts told me he was a strong candidate.”

Although exactly 20 years separate Frein and Tynan’s time at Carleton, they immediately discovered shared common interests and values. Frein enjoyed catching up with his alma mater through the eyes of a recent grad, and was pleased to see that his notions about Carleton students were not outdated. “The core weirdness and beautiful eccentricities that define Carleton were definitely there during both of our tenures,” says Tynan.

Tynan liked what he saw in Vancouver, decided to help the Refinery open a U.S. office to serve Latin America, and he’s never looked back. He’s now based out of Austin, Texas, which suits this music fan perfectly; in fact, his band played a show at the 2012 South by Southwest music festival. By the way, that first job offer, the one he turned down? It came from Google.

“I know, I know. But I knew this was the right choice, partly because of the relationships I immediately started to build with Mark and the rest of the company. Mark is an incredibly thoughtful and visionary person, and we hit it off really well. The culture is collaborative, personal, and creative, and with a bigger company, I wouldn’t get to have the kind of responsibility and experiences I have here,” he says.

“I probably spend half to two-thirds of my work time speaking Spanish. I get to go to amazing places all over the hemisphere, and feel I have an impact on companies and individuals. This is about as liberal arts a job as anyone could hope to have.”

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This page was last updated on 7 December 2012