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Hamilton Taught me How to Learn


Grady Vigneau '10
Grady Vigneau '10

As the end of my senior year came to a close, my thoughts could not have been more muddled on the subject of a career. It felt like I was the only one going into the summer without a job lined up. Did I want to do what my friends were doing? Where did I want to go? The world seemed like a large place and pinpointing a location was difficult. My resume was paper thin (haha!), because every summer I chose to clean pools and play baseball on the South Shore of Massachusetts. Meanwhile, many of my classmates were in Boston or New York participating in internships. Driving my Pontiac Vibe on the verge of 200,000 miles with a load of chlorine and pool equipment as soon as I finished work on my way to a baseball game sure was a fun way to make some money over the summer and enjoy my favorite activity. To me, it was worth skipping those internships for jobs that I was not even sure I wanted.

Once graduation rolled around I was still one of the jobless ones, partially because I was not sure what I wanted to do. I had taken the practice LSAT and was entertaining law school or a paralegal job. I thought about getting into coaching baseball or, thanks to all that I learned from Coach Adey, becoming a weight coach. With nothing else on my plate, I headed back for one more summer of baseball and cleaning pools. Honestly, it felt pretty good having a stress-free summer after graduation. It took some of the pressure off when I made that decision. I knew things would open up for me. In fact, after reaching out to a few alumni I had two job offers after just a few weeks! They were not jobs I had anticipated applying for, but after speaking with my fellow Hamilton graduates who were working there, I felt that they could be good fits.

So, I ended up taking a Category Associate job at Wayfair (at the time CSN Stores) where I essentially helped my boss run an online furniture store. It was a growing company both in employees and in business levels. I learned so much during my time there, but it wasn’t really what I wanted to do. So, here goes the craziness of the next few years. I ended up exploring that baseball coaching career, and despite the compensation being much lower, I felt that I should do it because it was what I am passionate about. So I did! Over the next few years I ended up as an assistant coach at Bates, back at Hamilton for a season, across the sea in Germany to be a player/coach, back to the US to start my Graduate Program in Sports Leadership at Northeastern University, off to Auburn, NY to intern for the Washington Nationals and then over to Omaha to intern for the Kansas City Royals. In between internships I would head back home to Vermont and work for my family’s business, a youth ski lodge. It was hectic, and pushing that Pontiac Vibe well over 200,000 miles because I was not able to afford a new car was stressful. Working a different job every 6 months was stressful, and feeling like I had no place to really call home was stressful. The worst part was that I no longer felt like baseball was my passion. So I decided to head back to my childhood home and work for my family for a bit. It was a tough decision, and felt like I was letting down all the people that helped me get to where I was and my family and friends who were so excited about my career path. In the end, it was the best one I could have made.

During that time at home I thought about what it was I really wanted to do. I have realized that sometimes it takes odd jobs and exploring areas that you never imagined to figure out what you really want. Through this journey, the most important lesson I learned was that Hamilton taught me how to learn. Taking a wide range of classes and studying so many new things trained my mind how to handle learning. In the real world that means I am able to try new jobs without as much, if any, prior experience and dive in quickly. Explaining this during interviews shows an awareness and confidence that can really impress an interviewer. Furthermore, deciding to change my career trajectory because I was not happy was the best decision I could have made.

After a few years at home I decided to look into other hospitality jobs, something I never thought I would pursue after growing up in that environment. I found a job in Colorado at Devil’s Thumb Ranch, working on the sales team. It was a move to get to Colorado. Finding a job that I had experience with after doing sales for my family’s lodge facilitated that move. I did not love it, but I loved the area and the change of pace. After about five months an opportunity opened up in the Activities Department at the Ranch and I was able to transfer. I am now the Activities Assistant Manager and I am working in a field I always knew I was passionate about (getting outside!), but never really thought I would be able to find a job in. I am able to oversee a retail and rental shop, manage a staff of great people who share my passion and spend time outside leading bike rides, zip line tours, and other fun activities.

ALUMNI CAREER ADVICE

Hamilton has a long history of connecting students with alumni and parents whose advice, expertise, and resources help talented young people achieve success for themselves and in their communities.

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If there is one thing I would like students to take out of my odd “career” path it would be this: it takes time to find your passion and a passion that translates well into a job. It would be great if we all knew what our calling was when we graduated, but it just is not that easy. Take what you learned in school and through your experiences and use that to find your way. Explore some jobs you had not previously considered, take a job just to move somewhere else, if there is something you are passionate about that does not seem like a possible career move, dig a little deeper and ensure that you have explored all the possibilities. You might be surprised with what you find.


Grady Vigneau '10 is currently the activities assistant manager at Devil’s Thumb Ranch Resort and Spa in Tabernash, Colorado. At Hamilton, Grady was a sociology major and played varsity baseball.

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