SET FOR SUCCESS: Alex Stillings ’08, Executive IT Support Lead, SpaceX
Alex Stillings ’08 has no trepidation about exploring new horizons. An executive IT support lead for SpaceX, Stillings ensures information technology continuity for the executives of the rocket manufacturing firm. No matter how complex the business environment he finds himself in, he believes his Saint Mary’s academic foundation has prepared him to thrive.
“Our liberal arts education exposed us to many different points of view and required us to think critically about the works we read and researched,” Stillings said. “I feel that I am a much more effective communicator because of the education I received at Saint Mary’s. The seminar classes really pushed us to talk and debate the works we were reading, and back it up with real facts. This is something that a lot of my generation lacks these days, but looking back, Saint Mary’s emphasized that research and facts matter.”
A Communication major, Stillings also noted that during his SMC experience, he learned how to ask the right questions, both inside and outside of the classroom. “During my senior year, I worked at the Career Center, and they gave me suggestions on where to look for career options. I was very interested in the film industry as well as technology. This turned into my being connected with some alumni who worked at Pixar in Emeryville for an informational meeting, which was very helpful. It helped me frame my expectations on getting into the workforce.”
"I feel that I am a much more effective communicator because of the education I received at Saint Mary’s...Saint Mary’s emphasized that research and facts matter.”
Stillings explored possible careers through internships, including an unpaid learning experience in the Oakland Raiders’ video department. “Initially, I thought this wasn’t something I wanted to do because it was unpaid. But one of my former professors reminded me that everyone starts somewhere, and doing TV work for the Raiders would be a huge opportunity to grow my skills. It turned out that the unpaid internship turned into a paid contract with the team, where I worked for two seasons.”
Stillings credits his Raiders internship for sparking his career. “It led to my next job and my next. The rest is history, as they say, but it ultimately started with taking a chance on an unpaid gig that led me to meet new people, which helped me grow in my career."