My experience as a HAVOC volunteer was one of the most enjoyable and important things I did at Hamilton. Nearly every week I had the opportunity to mentor Utica children both on campus and at Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School. I learned about the local community by forming strong relationships with Utica children and their families, and many of the same lessons apply to my job today as a community organizer-urban planner in my hometown of Baltimore. Every person, whether living in Utica or Baltimore, deserves a community that is safe, healthy and beautiful, and my job is to help neighbors build places that reflect that shared vision.
After the 2008 market downturn, I was torn between going back to business school or continuing my work at Goldman Sachs, so I reached out to a former partner of Goldman Sachs and a fellow Hamilton graduate. After our discussion, I felt more motivated than ever before to pursue a career in sales. Six months later, I joined the growing asset management sales business at the company. Given the new regulatory environment, banks were focused on recapitalizing, and they needed to grow their asset and wealth management businesses. It was a key turning point for my career in financial services.
I’m doing a job now that didn’t exist when I was a student at Hamilton. After graduation, I ran social media for CNN. Two years later, I became Hollywood’s first “social media agent,” linking the entertainment and technology worlds. My experience with changing technologies began my freshman year. I started a radio show interviewing politicians, celebrities, authors and other interesting people. To broadcast beyond Clinton, I created podcasts (which were relatively new), accessible to anyone via the Internet. The radio show was a springboard for summer internships and, later, an exciting career path.
I gave my first oral presentation as a freshman in Introductory Chemistry. Over the next three- and-a-half years, I took a range of classes in different departments, including Monetary Policy in Economics; American Sign Language and Media Theory, both in the Communication department; and Biophysical Chemistry in the Chemistry department. Each of these classes had an oral presentation component, and I learned to adapt my presentation to the audience.
Today, as part of my training as a doctor, I give oral presentations to fellow student doctors, to seasoned medical personnel and to other scientists in the medical field. With each speech I deliver, I always rely on the fundamentals I learned at Hamilton College.
The nonlinear nature of my education and, most importantly, the open-form structure of the campus and student body helped me believe in myself and others enough to step beyond the traditional career path. I helped create an industry that did not exist when I was a student at Hamilton College. There really is no single experience that shapes you; it is the aggregate of all the good and bad experiences. Hamilton allowed me to learn from both.
My academic and extracurricular experiences at Hamilton taught me to never stop learning. This has helped me in every job I’ve had — from manually unboxing and sorting CDs, to taking care of animals in a zoo, to helping develop the Google self-driving car. You never know where your career will take you and what opportunities will appear. Hamilton equipped me with the skill set to adapt and to succeed in any setting.
Hamilton taught me how to reverse-engineer problems and turn the solutions into compelling stories. When you’re sitting in your classes, it’s easy to take what you’re learning at face value. But you’re not just learning about biology, chemistry, history, economics, psychology, sociology and writing. You’re learning how to solve problems in meaningful and intelligent ways. Moreover, you’re learning how to convince others of the solutions you come up with. My two greatest career assets I learned at Hamilton: problem solving and effective communication.
Hamilton Professor of Physics Gordon Jones once told me that the things you learn in fields outside of science are more useful to you later than the science you are learning as an undergraduate. Since continuing my career, I have come to realize just how true that is. At Hamilton, I learned that through writing you come to understand something more completely. Being able to communicate what you learned to someone else is equally important, and since writing is the main vehicle for scientific communication, if you cannot write, you cannot excel in science.
When I graduated, there were very few job openings, so I reached out to Hamilton alumni for informational interviews. I landed my first job with the help of a Hamilton alumna who met with me to discuss her experiences at GREY New York. I came to the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations in the same way. When I started to consider graduate school, I consulted with alumni who had already gone through the process. In all of my career moves, the Hamilton network — helpful, open and strong — has served as an indispensable resource.
Every day in my journalism career, I call on skills and lessons developed at Hamilton. The emphasis placed on written and verbal communication gives every graduate a significant professional advantage. For four years, I was challenged to speak up and think creatively, which I know has given me the confidence to move into leadership roles in broadcast and political journalism. It also didn’t hurt that I landed my first job at ABC News from a fellow Hamiltonian. We graduated 25 years apart but spoke the same language.