All semester long, the Hamilton College Career and Life Outcomes Center has brought back alumni to meet with students and discuss their careers and opportunities in their fields. From Jake Taylor ’14 discussing AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) to Richard Previdi ’77 sharing details of his career in real estate, alumni were eager to provide advice and answer students’ questions.
Most recently three Hamilton alumni shared their experiences working for online furniture giant Wayfair.com, with current students.
Julia Beaty ’13, Jon Leanos ’12 and Emily Leinbach ’13 led an informative presentation on the company’s history and current environment and shared their personal experiences transitioning from Hamilton to the workplace.
Emily Leinbach opened the presentation with a brief overview of the company’s history. A member of the Wayfair staff since her sophomore year at Hamilton, Leinbach provided students with a comprehensive background.
Wayfair.com was started by Steve Conine and Narij Shah in 2002 as CSN Furniture, a collection of specialized furniture microsites that catered to specific furniture needs. By 2011, they consolidated their sites into Wayfair and created an online opportunity for shoppers to find “a zillion things home” all in one place. While Wayfair.com is now their primary site, several microsites that still exist include Joss and Main, AllModern, Birch Lane, and DwellStudio.
After sharing the company’s history, Jon Leanos delved into the company’s current goals, efforts and values. He outlined their demographics and main competitors and educated students on the company’s wide range of products and appeal. He explained that home shoppers desire uniqueness and stressed the importance of providing shoppers with a multitude of options.
“We want our site to be more than just transactional. We want it to lead to inspiration as well,” Leanos stated when he explained one of the company’s current advertisements currently airing on HGTV.
Julia Beaty then discussed what opportunities Wayfair can offer Hamilton students. She shared photographs of the company’s state-of-the-art headquarters in downtown Boston and discussed how features of the building, such as their open floorplan, helps develop a corporate culture that fosters collaborative decision making.
“Every day is different. It’s so exciting and makes for a really great work environment,” she said of her experience with Wayfair thus far. In addition to discussing perks like Wayfair’s flexible hours and casual dress, Beaty also noted that the company looks for intelligent, courageous, progressive thinkers and decision makers, much like the students at Hamilton College.
The three speakers then shared their respective paths to attaining jobs there. Leanos confessed that, heading into his senior year at Hamilton, he had absolutely no idea what he wanted to do after he graduated. During his first semester, he attended a talk presented by Wayfair and felt that a career with the company seemed fitting for him due to their wide range of roles and departments. He began working for them immediately after his graduation.
Leinbach’s experience proved very different from Leanos’. She began working for the company as a summer intern in 2011, after she had discovered the job through Hamilton’s Career Center job and internship posting site, HamNet. When she studied abroad in Sydney, Australia, her junior year, Leinbach worked in Wayfair’s Sydney office. The company offered her a full-time job before her senior year at Hamilton; she currently works on Allmodern’s category management team.
Beaty’s experience also proved unique. After graduating from Hamilton, Beaty worked for two companies that she did not feel suited her career aspirations and skillsets. While she feared switching jobs for a third time would reflect poorly on her resume, she fell in love with Wayfair and has been working in their engineering department ever since.
All three alumni agreed that their experience at Hamilton masterfully prepared them for their careers. “The ability to communicate effectively is instrumental to our success, and we can accredit that skill to our experience at a liberal arts school like Hamilton,” said Leinbech. Each speaker also stressed the ways in which Hamilton helped them “learn to learn,” which proved valuable when learning to adapt to the professional world.
After their presentations, the three speakers took questions. They actively engaged with students and were genuinely passionate about helping students understand the opportunities they could have at Wayfair.
Among other alumni who returned to Hamilton to share career advice during the fall semester were Annie Lindahl ’15 (City Year), Michael Marcal ’77 (Goldman Sachs Tech), Will Thoreson-Green ’12 (Cigna), Todd Hoffman ’90 (Trinity-Pawling), Rori Daws ’00 and Meredith Howley ’05 (public health and nursing), Lindsey Wong-Byrnes (physician assistant), Sarah Fuzesi ’07 (medical school and residency), Mark Lewis ’84 (careers using math – operations research).