I began senior year planning to double major in psychology and sociology, but my diploma reads, “B.A., Psychology.” Blocked from my original thesis topic by data scarcity, I couldn’t justify spending senior year on a diluted alternative. I spoke with my advisor about dropping my sociology major and he said, “In 30 years, you’ll look back and regret it!” Already distressed, I was shocked and said, “Really?!” He laughed and said, “No, of course not!” My transcript was brimming with sociology credits, which made the decision to walk away tough, but also reminded me of how rich my experience with the discipline had been. I had already majored in “Dan Chambliss,” as the saying goes.
Just a few short years post-grad have shown me how silly I was to think a double-major would make or break my future. Every career-related decision that confronted me at Hamilton felt like the end of the world, because the village of Clinton is a tiny world. This made it a bit isolating, but it also made it the perfect training ground for life after Hamilton.
I may have left the lessons of my thesis unlearned, but I gained valuable practice investing. No, I don’t mean financial investing. I didn’t take a single economics course at Hamilton (a regret for another time); I mean investing time and energy.
Wherever you go, you’ll have a leg up if you know how to protect your energy and pour it into what matters to you. I recommend using your time on the Hill to practice investing your time and energy well, starting with your day-to-day life. Constantly take inventory of your schedule and take care in choosing classes. There is more knowledge to be gained inside KJ and the Science Center than anyone can soak up in four years.
Pay attention also to how you spend your (what I now realize to be) copious amounts of free time. “Learning how to think,” “Knowing thyself,” and all the other intangible values of a Hamilton education must be extracted from outside the classroom, too. Take advantage of the endless opportunities to experiment, diversify yourself, and find your people. For me, Thursday yoga classes with Susie Hamilton let me explore a practice I now can’t imagine my life without.
Looking back, I’m grateful for the times I resisted the lure of an extra line on my resume or FOMO, and I regret allowing myself to feel intimidated by classmates that had it all figured out. Life after Hamilton is full of the same distractions found on the Hill, plus more. Until proven otherwise, I will continue to believe that professional and personal development hinges on one overarching skill: meticulously investing your time and energy.
When it comes to finding your next career-related opportunity, build some structure around your search but don’t get boxed in by it. The ambiguity of the job search gave me analysis paralysis. I wanted to put a stake in the ground to show both myself and potential employers I knew exactly what would happen next, but I wouldn’t have found my first job or my current position at Honor if I held onto that approach.
Taking a broad, exploratory lens to the job market allowed me to go down interesting rabbit holes. When I got lost in the endless sea of opportunities, I reeled myself in by centering on either a job title, an industry, a set of skills, or a mission I was curious about. I found some of the most intriguing positions off the beaten path, including my current role as a Business Development Analyst at Honor. Honor’s mission--to improve how we care for our parents as they age--caught my eye. Had I gotten caught up in the title, I might not have pursued the role.
Throughout the interview process, I learned about the environment, people, and day-to-day responsibilities, all of which convinced me that this would be the perfect place to learn and grow. I knew I’d have agency over my work and be able to collaborate with smart and passionate colleagues — both of which have been invaluable over the past 10 months. Having had only two jobs so far, I am just beginning to learn what’s important to me at work. Rather than specific titles or tasks, focusing on the mission, the people, and the environment has led me to meaningful opportunities.