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Alumni Spotlight: Emily Murphy

Emily Murphy. (Submitted photo)
Emily Murphy. (Submitted photo)

Alumni Spotlight is a series of interviews conducted with members of the Dalhousie Alumni Association.

Emily Murphy

Nickname: Murph! (With an exclamation mark.) You have to yell it when you say it because people only ever yelled it.

Class of ‘05

Bachelor of commerce (international business)

Current role: Administrative assistant on the development team at the Canadian Mission to the United Nations

It’s a rainy day in the Big Apple but a hot and sunny one in Halifax when I call Emily Murphy to chat, and we joke about how our cities must have switched weather. Murphy left Nova Scotia’s unpredictable climate long ago and now lives in New York, where she currently works as an administrative assistant on the development team at the Canadian Mission to the UN. The development team manages the Canadian International Development Agency’s budget for anything UN-related. Thanks to her dual Canadian-American citizenship, she was able to work in the US part-time during undergrad. She has been working stateside full-time since graduating from Dalhousie in 2005, giving full effect to the “international” part of her commerce degree in international business.

The UN position is a bit of a 180 from Murphy’s first post-university job: working for Penthouse Magazine in Florida right after graduating from Dal.

“I actually was offered a job there my last semester,” she says. “I knew the CEO and worked for him in different capacities. He gave me a job in licensing in the New York office, and then before I even started, an opening happened in the Florida office to do events. You had to be on the road for half a year, which is too much for most people, but he said, ‘It would be perfect for you.’” True to his word, Murphy’s work at Penthouse involved traveling across the US, and several trips to Las Vegas in particular. One Vegas celebrity sighting she mentions: Tiger Woods.

After working for Penthouse, Murphy worked as a personal assistant and nanny in Florida. The lifestyle of that job accommodated her newfound passion for surfing: “I was able to surf five hours every morning,” she recalls.

Murphy left Florida in 2010 for the bright lights of New York, where she had worked periodically during her undergrad and returned to intern at Amnesty International.  “I interned on the events team, for their fiftieth anniversary,” she explains. The anniversary celebrations included a visit from the Dalai Lama that Emily describes as “awesome.”

Murphy offers some advice to current students interested in internship, job, and volunteer opportunities at NGOs in the US and around the world: check out the website www.idealist.org. It’s where she found the posting for her current position at the UN.

“I got lucky,” she says, noting that dual citizenship is not a pre-requisite, although being Canadian is a must.


Why did you decide to attend Dal?

My dad worked there. I went to kindergarten there, and elementary, and went to visit him all the time, and it never occurred to me to go anywhere else.

Where did you live while you were at Dal?

I lived at home the whole time. My parents had a rentable basement and they rented it to me for free. And the two summers and three internships I did in New York.

Where could you be found most often on campus?

In the Computer Science building. It was the only new building at the time, and then I also worked at the Second Cup down there. So I was literally there all the time. I loved it.

Favourite place to study?

I would say the same thing: the Computer Science building. All the business students figured out that we could do group work there and everything we did was group work. We took over.

What was your biggest distraction while you were at Dal?

Being in BComm, there is one semester they make you go to school in the summer and the sun was such a distraction. I absolutely loved crappy days because every nice day was so distracting.

What was your favourite cafeteria food on campus?

During the summer the one good thing was that the Grawood had summer specials. Burgers, beer, and fries.

How did your Dal experience prepare you for your current role?

All of the presentations we did prepared me for my current role. By fourth year we were doing at least two a week so [the experience] just comes through, even at staff meetings. It makes you so much more comfortable when you’ve done it so many times. And working in so many groups all the time. It sucks at the time but it really helps when you leave. You don’t pick your coworkers and you don’t pick people you’re in a group with, necessarily, so you just learn how to handle it.

Do you have any words of wisdom for current Dal students—something you wish you had known when you were a student?

I wish I had known about the Canadian mission, not just in New York but all over the world. Especially being in international business. I had no idea. And I think on the East Coast they don’t think about that. All of our interns are from Calgary and Toronto, and at Dal it should really be a prerogative to tell students.

So: consider the foreign services before you graduate. If you want to travel, it’s one of the coolest things you can do with that degree.

Also, I’ve attended every Dal Alumni reception I could and I highly recommend it in terms of networking.

Finally, take advantage of the Dalplex. I did intramural volleyball and really, looking back, I wish I had taken rock climbing too. I didn’t take advantage of the sports centre.

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