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Grit: The Value of Hamilton Students’ Habits


Ellie Pinto ’18
Ellie Pinto ’18

I have been assigned to several projects that have challenged and pushed me outside my original job description. I have been praised as “scrappy” and “able to do odd projects.” I have gained the trust of my colleagues, bosses, and managers, and have opened my career to cutting edge projects and roles. 

In addition to a mix of standard and “abnormal” assignments, I have helped recruit students for our company over the last few years. Hamilton is among the schools we visit for recruiting and interviewing. Working on hiring—while enjoyable—has also been insightful. It has opened my eyes to an asset that Hamilton students possess which I had previously overlooked. 

Consultants regularly sing the highest praises for our students. A proud alumna, I never thought much of it. I know Hamilton students are sharp, driven, and generally all-around top-notch. Nevertheless, I ask, “Why?” I want to know what a company who meets plenty of bright and capable students finds particularly noteworthy about Hamilton students. The answer, I realized, lies in a quality that is so fundamental and routine to the Hamilton community that I had missed it before. It is also clear that this asset holds weight among consultants and in the business world. Finally, the very fact that the quality is ingrained in Hamilton students is part of what makes it special and powerful. It is the reason I am “scrappy” and valuable. 

This quality, I realized, is one that students develop on the Hill, and that continues to serve them beyond. The powerful asset I am praising has two important components.

  1. Hamilton students listen, digest, and make meaning of complicated information, and they do so quickly and accurately. This may seem obvious, but the importance of it is paramount to success in class and later in a business setting. Students learn to meet expectations. They learn that failure to learn class material on any one day could damage their understanding of future material, and therefore, their success later in the class. However, if they fully understand base level material (often complex in its own right), they will more easily master the next steps and stay on track in class. While failure to thoroughly grasp concepts does not guarantee future overall failure, it creates a larger risk of falling behind. Thus, they learn to create a structured approach that helps them efficiently and effectively process complex topics. They apply in practice what they are still in the process of learning, and over time, become experts at mastering complicated information quickly, even when they may not feel ready to take the next step.

    In the working world, managers and clients do not have time to wait for every member of their team to feel confident in a subject matter; young analysts must apply new knowledge before fully believing they are ready to move on. By the time Hamilton students encounter this situation, they are well-versed in handling the challenge and possess the experience and confidence to proceed. Comfortable and ready or not, Hamilton graduates can apply new material and charge ahead as they learn it, when necessary. It has become ingrained thanks to the four years they spent on the Hill mastering and habituating the skill. 
  2. Hamilton students thrive in the face of unexpected challenges. Last-minute deadline changes, group work conflicts, and activity or job schedule changes are just a few of many wrenches thrown in front of Hamilton students’ workload attack plans. Though frustrating at the moment, unexpected adversity teaches students to reprioritize their responsibilities, adjust their schedules in real-time, and make the most of free moments to study or ask professors questions. Additionally, students cannot afford to pause their schoolwork while they recalibrate. So, they must learn to balance their work while adapting to externally imposed change.

    In any work environment, unexpected changes appear at the seemingly worst possible moments, as it does for college students. Just like their acquired ability to learn quickly and thoroughly remains applicable to work, students’ reprioritization skills continue to serve them in the business world. When managers or clients move meetings and deadlines, or a team member suddenly becomes unable to assist on a project, Hamilton graduates have the skills to reorganize and balance responsibilities in the face of adversity.

While at Hamilton, students learn to process information quickly, effectively, and in the face of unexpected challenges. Their ability to master and ingrain both skills into one subconscious habit is a powerful asset that companies notice, and that Hamilton students and alumni should realize they have. In tandem, both skills make up a powerful integrated quality that helps Hamilton students thrive in business environments.

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