It seems to me that Hamilton’s free-form approach to education, most opaquely reflected in the open curriculum, sends a certain message: here, students apply an ethic of exploration and open-mindedness to a broad set of offerings to determine their own path in life. Finding this path is a part of the journey, and an appreciation for the trial-and-error process is ingrained into the culture of Hamiltonians.
This appreciation for the journey, I believe, can be directly applied to the alumni network both on and off campus. The alumni network provides a diverse pool of information and resources that Hamiltonians may dive into, extract advice from and continue their personal development. As such, I thought it might be useful to outline a few quick tips on networking and how to best approach the alumni base:
First, network broadly. Exploration is an essential part of what it means to be a Hamiltonian, and alumni will be more than willing to chat with those that express a genuine interest in their field. No matter what direction you are planning to engage with, I highly recommend additionally chatting with alumni in adjacent, or even opposing, areas. It will either help ensure a certain path is not for you, or open new opportunities to learn about a particular route. Moreover, you’ll hopefully encounter a range of personalities across areas, which may be directionally reflective of future coworkers.
Second, do a bit of diligence before reaching out. Try to learn as much as is publicly and reasonably available on an alumni and their area of expertise — that way, conversations can be focused, productive and impactful. Canned questions, while helpful for the first few conversations, quickly become stale. As such, I’d recommend trying to make a list of 15 or so for each person you chat with, to ensure you’re ready to pivot a conversation in any direction it may go.
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.
Third, be sure to follow up. Emails and hand-written notes, which incorporate themes from the conversation, is proof of an engaging dialogue and is reflective of an authentic student or alumni.
Finally, it’s completely acceptable to explore a field and find out it’s not for you. Very few people get it perfect the first time. Coming from an alumni who laterally transitioned roles and cities a year after graduation, I’d say it all works out in the end. Just keep exploring until you find whatever it is you’re looking for.
Andrew Yates ’15 is an associate in the Financial Institutions Group at RBC Capital Markets’ Global Investment Banking Division in New York City. At Hamilton, he double majored in environmental chemistry and economics, was co-president of the Finance Club and a peer advisor at the Career Center.