Advice from the Real World
illustrations by Katie Kath

A few weeks ago, each member of the Class of 2015 walked across the stage at Commencement — a few short steps that signified the beginning of a long and often uncertain journey known to alumni as life after Hamilton.

Surely these new graduates have been receiving helpful advice from parents, professors, folks in the Career and Life Outcomes Center and others who care about their future. Yet sometimes the best advice comes from those who recently found themselves in the same position, contemplating how to chart their own courses from College Hill to the “real world.”

The Hamilton Alumni Review recently sent an email to alumni in the classes of 2012, 2013 and 2014, asking them to share one nugget of wisdom with the Class of 2015 — something they wish they had known as they gathered that morning in late May in the Margaret Bundy Scott Field House to receive their newly minted Hamilton diplomas.

Instantly the replies rolled in.

Along with our congratulations, here are some words of inspiration and encouragement for Hamilton’s newest class of alumni.

Continue to read and learn. You’ve spent a lot of hours developing successful habits; it would be embarrassing if you were a little slow on your first day of work. Reread one of your favorite books this summer — it’s always better the second or third time. 

Andrew Madigan ’14 

Corporate Analyst Development Program at JPMorgan Chase
New York

Update your MyHamilton profile with your new address post-graduation, even if you’re expecting it to be temporary. The College uses these addresses to invite you to local and regional alumni events, so it’s the best way to stay connected in a new city.

Will rUSCHE '13

Research Team Member at The White House
Washington, D.C.

“Rule No. 1 is don’t sweat the small stuff. Rule No. 2 is it’s all small stuff.” (Robert Elliot)
In the end, you determine how any situation is going to go based on your reaction to it. It is all about your perspective. Make your perspective a positive one and you will be amazed by how unfazed you are in the height of the most trying circumstances. 

Katheryn Goldman ’14

DMD candidate at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine

When you ask a question, it is important to clearly explain your thought process and think ahead for proposed solutions. It has served me well.

Yinghan Ding ’12

Private Equity Risk Management and Analytics Analyst at Goldman Sachs
Salt Lake City

If you really know what you want to do or where you want to live after graduation, then go for it! Put all of your energy into making it work, no matter how challenging it may be. If you end up in a city you don’t want to be in, with a job you’re not excited about, you’ll be miserable sticking around for those “two years” just to build the work experience section of your résumé. Your early/mid-20s don’t have to be about hating the working world; go find a lifestyle you want to live!

Stephen Rosenman ’13

Consultant at Deloitte (and weekend skier)

Networking - Advice from the Real WorldLearn to love networking. Expanding your network can always be helpful, and you never know how your network might end up being useful. There is no industry or job where building  a network isn’t important. It’s also a great way to meet new people and learn something new.

Nick Richards ’12

Manager of Corporate Development at Genospace
Cambridge, Mass.

In the “real world,” you can’t maintain friendships just by proximity. Few, if any, of your friends will live within walking distance. It becomes harder to keep in touch with both your friends from Hamilton and the new friends you will make. Reach out! Also, there’s no homework (in most cases). You’ll have much more free time, and you may not know how to spend it at first. Make sure you fill it up with activities that matter to you and make you happy.

Amanda Berman ’13

Publicity and Event Coordinator for Arts & Sciences, Career Services at Cornell University
Ithaca, N.Y.

As a soon-to-be graduate, it’s easy to feel like you’re being tracked into a career or, alternatively, scared that you will never find a job, let alone the right job. In either case, I stress the importance of approaching any opportunity with an open mind. Your learning is far from over, and a career job can wait. Follow your passions, figure out what you like to do, and find people that you really enjoy working with. Think of the real world as an extension of your liberal arts education, and challenge yourself to grow in many different ways. That dream job is out there ... most people are still searching for it, just like you.

Greg Scott ’14

Account Manager at Liquid: Powered by PCH
Portland, Maine

If you can’t see yourself working somewhere, don’t apply. I sent out at least 50 résumés and cover letters during my senior spring, most of which went to companies that didn’t thrill me. But I wanted to be an editorial assistant, and where seemed secondary to the work I’d be doing. I was wrong. Even if you can feign enthusiasm in a cover letter, your lack of interest will be hard to cover up in an interview. Plus, you should love your place of employment. You’ll be spending more time there than you do anywhere else. 

Bonnie Wertheim ’14

Editorial assistant at The New York Times Syndicate
Millburn, N.J.

Money truly doesn’t buy happiness. I’m the poorest I have ever been, and I am just as happy as I’ve been at other times in my life. … I have several friends who opted for high-paying jobs straight out of Hamilton who would happily trade some of their large salaries for more free time or a more rewarding career. So let that free you to do what you want to do. Do something you enjoy getting up to do every day. Do something that makes the world better. What’s the point of earning a lot of money if you don’t enjoy your life? 

Tyler Roberts ’12

Student at Columbia Law School
New York

Don’t force yourself into a job you don’t want because it is what you are “supposed” to do. Talk to lots of people in industries you like to find out as much as you can before making a decision.

Sarah Kelley ’12

Digital Marketing Manager at Simon Pearce
Windsor, Vt.

What you do your first year out of Hamilton will not dictate the rest of your life. Make decisions that challenge you, move to an unfamiliar city, find a job doing something you’ve always wanted to try, not something you feel like you’re supposed to do. This is a time to take risks and expand your life outside of the step-by-step structure of academia.

Ashley Vanicek ’13

Publicity Assistant at Skyhorse Publishing
New York

Neighborhoods - Advice from the Real WorldExplore new neighborhoods and ones you’ve been to before on foot. Talk to the residents and fall in love with the buildings. It will teach you more about places, people, landscapes and architecture than any book.

Eryn Boyce ’13

Graduate Student in Historic Preservation at the University of Pennsylvania; Site Assistant at Fonthill Castle

Taking time off between medical/law/graduate school is probably a phrase that no one wants to hear, but TAKE TIME OFF! Enjoy being 22, living alone in a new city, maybe working at an 8-5 job in your field of interest and just experiencing “real life” for the first time. 1) You learn a ton about yourself in that year off that you may not otherwise, and 2) You’re going to appreciate the graduate program you’re entering so much more than if you were to go straight from Hamilton. I promise you!

Liza Gergenti ’14

Medical Assistant at Boston Sports and Shoulder Center Boston
(starting medical school later this year)

Be okay with not being okay. Don’t expect to have everything together and figured out right after Hamilton. It takes time. Learn to ask for help, advice or anything else along your journey to “adulthood.” People are usually very willing to help if you simply ask.

Cynthia Rodriguez ’13

Social Studies Teacher at KIPP DC Heights Academy
Washington, D.C.

If you really know what you want to do or where you want to live after graduation, then go for it! Put all of your energy into making it work, no matter how challenging it may be. If you end up in a city you don’t want to be in, with a job you’re not excited about, you’ll be miserable sticking around for those “two years” just to build the work experience section of your résumé. Your early/mid-20s don’t have to be about hating the working world; go find a lifestyle you want to live!

Stephen Rosenman ’13

Consultant at Deloitte (and weekend skier)

Hamilton is a great place to grow into yourself and establish strong foundations. But there is a great saying which states that life begins at the end of your comfort zone. Take advantage of all the unique opportunities and possibilities coming your way because there is no better time than now.

Greg Newton ’14

Financial Management Program at General Electric
Charlottesville, Va.

Learning doesn’t stop once you leave the Hill. Leverage study methods and techniques that made you successful at Hamilton to expedite climbing the workplace learning curve. Be mindful of your “say v. do ratio” and approach your “weaknesses” as development opportunities. A little enthusiasm goes a long way. A lot goes even further.

David James Goldstein ’13

Financial analyst in General Electric’s Financial Management Program
Fairfield, Conn.

The best decision I made post-Hamilton was to pick where I wanted to live, not what I wanted to do. I then decided I would job search in my chosen city (Portland, Maine) and look for small startups that were hiring. I found a great job and since have switched to a new company in a similar industry. I’ve found that living in a small city has fewer openings than a large one, but when they come along they are great opportunities with fewer qualified applicants. Most importantly, at the end of the day I truly love where I live! 

Rachel Bristol ’13

Partner Program Manager at CashStar
Portland, Maine

Compare - Advice from the Real WorldResist the temptation to compare yourself to your friends upon graduation and thereafter. Everyone has his/her own path in life to journey through. Some of you will have many hurdles to overcome before landing that coveted first job or first apartment, and others won’t, but that does not mean you are doing something wrong if you have not accomplished either or both as fast as your friends. Rest assured, entering the “real world” with a Hamilton degree is very impressive and marketable to future employers and other alumni looking for potential roommates. Believe in and stay true to yourselves.

Joshua Yates ’14

Transactional Paralegal at Balber Pickard Maldonado & Van Der Tuin, PC
New York

Have conversations and build relationships with as many people as you possibly can in your field of interest. My current job came from some serious networking — my dad introduced me to a family friend who is a recruiter, she introduced me to her business partner who is an entrepreneur, through the work I did for him I met a startup founder, he introduced me to an organizational development professional, and then he introduced me to my current boss. These connections happened over a period of three years. You never know how far casual conversations and networking can take you.

Emma Leeds ’12

Manager on the People Team at Sailthru
New York

Read. Read. Read. And call your parents. Nothing will quite cheer you up like continuing your personal growth and hearing the voices of those who have supported you. 

Becca Weingarten ’13

Data Analyst at Wayfair LLC

After graduation, I moved home to Delaware to live with my parents and dog. I worked in a restaurant in Rehoboth Beach. I fell in love. I freaked out a lot and worried about how I wanted to live my life. I dabbled in teaching. I moved to Baltimore. I traveled to Seattle and Spain to visit friends. Now I live in the beautiful city of Charleston with my boyfriend. My advice, Class of 2015, is to take a break. You’ve earned it. Maintain your Hamilton friendships and be sure to surround yourself with new friends and people who love you wherever you choose to land after rolling off the Hill.

Grace Belkot ’12

FIG Restaurant
Charleston, S.C.

Spend as much time as you possibly can with the people who really made your Hamilton experience. Do things together that show them what they mean to you. You can’t do that enough.

Charley Allegar ’14

Director at Tree 4 Hope
Harrisburg, Pa.

My advice is very simple. I believe in the philosophies of paying-it-forward and doing random acts of kindness, and do so whenever I can. When you can help someone, do it with confidence, no matter how small the activity. This benefits the recipient, as well as yourself — enjoy the feel-good side effects and join the ripple effect of kindness acts around the world.

Yvonne Schick ’13

Senior Production Specialist, Print Shop at Hamilton College
Clinton, N.Y.

Time Off - Advice from the Real WorldWhen you graduate from Hamilton, don’t feel like you have to jump straight into the “real world.” Give yourself a year to travel, hike the Appalachian Trail, go on a road trip, backpack across Europe. Do the one thing in the world that you would want to do if money and a place to live were irrelevant. You’re only going to get one chance to do it, and now is that time! 

Annelise Driscoll ’14

Taking a yearlong road trip to visit all 50 states

My advice to all students (especially seniors) is to spend more time in The Little Pub when any alumni are on campus. Talk to everyone in there who looks older than a college student. I made some of my best networking connections over a pint of Saranac.

Tara Huggins ’14

Personal Assistant to the CEO at Endeavour Partners
Boston, Mass.

If possible, delay your start date and spend the summer after graduation having fun! I was so happy I had one last “summer vacation” before starting my first job. Travel as much as you can before you have to worry about vacation days.

Meghan Doherty ’14

Associate at The Brookeside Group
Boston, Mass.

If you are like me, as Senior Spring approached, you likely already have a handful of friends with post-graduate jobs and a new home in mind. And, if you are like me, you may have little more than a hopeful résumé and a sense of uncertainty. Of course, it is only natural to compare ourselves to those around us, but my advice is not to glance at your employed friends with jealousy or panic. Embrace the idea (however scary) that we all find our way at different times, and you, too, may just end up right where you belong.

Nell Goddard ’14

Assistant Media Planner at Merkley and Partners
New York, N.Y.

The most important thing I could tell a recent graduate of Hamilton is that you’re going to be all right. You just graduated from one of the best liberal arts colleges in the country. Knowing this, you absolutely have to TRUST that you’ll figure it out. Really trust yourself. People will ask you what you are going to do with your life in the next year non-stop. The reason most of them ask this is because you’ve somehow already inspired them by where you’ve gone and what you’ve managed to accomplish so far. Trust that, even if you don’t know exactly what you want to do, you will find a way to figure it out. It’s hard to do. But you can do it.

John Whitney ’12

Completing MFA in acting at the University of Iowa
(moving to New York City to pursue acting career)

Move to a new city where you know no one (or maybe just one or two people) and explore something new. You’ll be surprised by the amazing people you can meet, and it’s exciting to expand beyond the Hamilton network. Plus, there’s no need to worry — the friends you made at Hamilton are for life, and they’ll be off doing the same.

Dylan Jackson ’13

Assistant Buyer at Urban Outfitters
Philadelphia, Pa.

When your niche doesn’t exist, create it! I went into Hamilton knowing I wanted to major in environmental studies, but had no idea where I fit into the broader environmental movement. I was intrigued by climate change, social justice and food, so when I discovered the Slow Food Movement and its mission of “good, clean and fair food for all,” I didn’t hesitate to start a Slow Food USA chapter at Hamilton my sophomore year. This formative series of events led me to the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship (my project was A Sustainable Future for Food and Farming: Modern Technology and Traditional Wisdom in Tanzania, India, Bhutan, Bolivia, the Netherlands and Iceland) and a year later, my first full-time job at Slow Food USA.

Lauren Howe ’13

Manager, National School Garden Program at Slow Food USA
Denver, Colo.

Uncertainty - Advice from the Real WorldEmbrace uncertainty.

Nicolas Keller Sarmiento '13

Set Production Assistant for Various Television Shows
Los Angeles

Be extremely proactive about connecting with Hamilton alumni, both pre-graduation and post-graduation. Whether work related or non-work related, I found that Hamilton alumni were eager and willing to connect with recent graduates. We can help network, unearth career opportunities, accommodate graduates in a new city and reflect on our respective times on the Hill.

Kendall Weir ’12

Account Manager at NetSuite
Boston, Mass.

You should over prepare for your life post-graduation but then open yourself to changes you had not anticipated. Life is not as straightforward as we think it is — be flexible with the various challenges you’ll encounter.

Marla Marquez ’14

Teacher at The New England Center for Children
Southborough, Mass.

Remember to relax and enjoy Hamilton!

Etan Weiss ’13

For any students interested in graduate or medical school, especially if you have research background or a mathematical or computer science background: Apply to the NIH IRTA program. You’re often given complete autonomy to focus on research projects that you enjoy for an entire year in the lab of world-renowned scientists who are extremely receptive and interested in mentoring. The NIH campus and IRTA community are wonderful. It will look fantastic on grad/med school applications and, most importantly, give you a taste of doing your own research.

Sam Weisenthal ’13

Bethesda, Md.

Build some qualitative skills while you are at Hamilton! I know math is not for everyone, but it helps to at least have some background when applying for jobs. You have the opportunity to try new things at Hamilton, so don’t be afraid to take that stats class. It will pay off later.

Elly Field ’13

Research Assistant, ICF International
Fairfax, Va.

Don’t settle, and don’t be afraid to take a job that is a little outside the box. As long as you’re passionate about what you’re doing, that’s all that matters. Life is too short to be working somewhere that doesn’t excite and inspire you. Understand what that excitement is and pursue it.

Henry Burchenal ’12

New Partnerships Associate at eSpark Learning
New York, N.Y.

You do you. Take your time in figuring out what makes you tick.

Jane Barnard ’13

When in doubt, every Hamilton grad should realize that they are qualified for a sales role starting out. Don't underestimate how much the Hill makes you a competitive storyteller, communicator and writer. Chances are, most careers you look at will involve convincing someone to buy something in one way or another. Crafting your résumé to show how you can sell an idea, product, story – anything really – should open up tons of early options.

Tom Youngblood '13

Agency Team Member at Google
Brooklyn, N.Y.

You won’t step off the stage at graduation into a perfectly formed life. Don’t expect to assume an “adult” identity all at once, and don’t feel like you have to leave yourself behind on the Hill to make it in the real world. You don’t have to know what you want to do, or even work toward a defined future. Just do something. The first year out of college isn’t the rest of your life; it is just the beginning of the larger process of figuring it all out. Nothing is really ending — it’s all just beginning.

Julia Grace Brimelow ’14

Junior Account Planner at Grey Healthcare Group
New York, N.Y.

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