In a “What I Did With My Major in Humanities” panel hosted by the Career Center, five alumni who majored in sociology, women’s studies, or Africana studies explained how their academics affected their careers. They shared stories on influential moments from Hamilton, skills that transferred from their major to their work, and critical pieces of advice that all 40 students in the room could use moving forward.
The panelists were: Sarah Boole ’07, brand and content manager of Twisted Tea at The Boston Beer Company; Stephanie Tafur ’10, program director at the Posse Foundation; Kevin Alexander ’13, coordinator of the Utica/Oneida County Anti-Poverty Initiative at the United Way of the Valley and Greater Utica; Nanyamka Fleming ’14, legal and business affairs support associate at The Advisory Board Company; and Jessica Moulite ’14, social media reporter and producer at Fusion.
One of the salient questions that began the panel was: how often did their majors apply to the work in their careers? The unanimous answer was: “every day.”
The Hamilton network really does stay with you past graduation.
While Alexander uses a sociological perspective to connect with students and administration he works with, Boole uses her ability to communicate succinctly as cultivated from writing essays in her sociology classes. Moulite focuses on helping underrepresented voices become heard, a core emphasis in women’s studies; Fleming understands how to deal with micro- and macroaggressions in the corporate workplace from her education in Africana studies. Tafur spoke highly of the Africana’s studies department, whose faculty gave her the opportunity for her own voice to be heard which inspired her to help other students find their voice as well.
When discussing their career trajectories, each panelist noted the impact of networking with alumni. Moulite said, “The Hamilton network really does stay with you past graduation,” explaining how reconnecting with an alum that she had an informational interview with months before helped her confirm an internship at CBS.
All alumni also praised how the open-curriculum and liberal arts education of Hamilton allowed them to explore different paths and realize their passions.
Fleming said, “Hamilton does a really great job at listening to what their students want,” explaining how even with the college’s major requirements, departments are willing to listen to students advocate for themselves and help decide what classes can fulfill their major.
Panelists reminded students that choosing a major should be influenced by genuine interest rather than trying to prepare for a specific career. Students should use their connections to learn about their passions before making decisions about their future.
Tafur, for example, fell into her career after being transformed by her experiences with Posse scholarship program. She said, “Having seen the benefits and necessity of the work that Posse does also informed my decision to go work for an organization that influenced me and many of my closest friends—their experiences and the relationships and connections I still have are a part of the reason why this work means so much to me.”
Alexander offered an inspirational piece of advice to reassure students confused about their future. He said Hamilton is only the beginning. “It’s ok if you don't have the job or opportunity you want initially; every experience is a stepping stone. Take what you learn from Hamilton and apply it to your own everyday life and you’ll be amazed by what you learn,” Alexander said.