Alumni Experience: Turning detours into opportunities by Sarah Greenburg '09

Five years ago, I swore I would live the rest of my life abroad; it's an expat's life for me! At that time, I was a student at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. As the only American in my flat (yeah, I said it, FLAT), I was exposed to so much of the world by my multi-cultural, multi-lingual, dual-citizenship friends that I decided living in the US for the rest of my life simply would not do. I caught a virulent strain of the travel bug, spent all my money on planes, trains, and buses, and decided at the end of the year that I wanted to join the Foreign Service. Not so big a leap for an anthropology major, right?

By the time I returned to Hamilton to complete my senior year, I had all kinds of schemes and a depleted bank account. I needed a way to bankroll my wanderlust, pump up my resume, and further my "career." So I moved to China.

Through a program called LanguageCorps, I signed up for a month-long TEFL course in Zhuhai, China. At the end of the course, I found a job in the same city at an English immersion school for adults. I signed a yearlong contract, found a Chinese tutor, and woke up every morning with the same thought: "what's going to happen!?"

Over the course of my 14 months abroad, I came up with some pretty crazy ideas. I looked into different Chinese language programs, I thought about teaching English in other countries; I nearly bought a one-way ticket to who knows where. I was all over the place, and truth be told, I wasn't really happy feeling so "free."

About 6 months after I starting teaching, my school opened another branch in a different part of the country, and the staff was given the opportunity to move up to Hangzhou or stay in Zhuhai. I was torn; up until that point, I was all about being on the move. I wanted to see more of the country, I was looking for the ultimate Chinese experience, I was there to explore after all. I had two weeks to decide.

My decision to stay in Zhuhai, which I did, was in essence my decision to let go of the Foreign Service, the forever ex-pat dream. It took moving to China for me to realize that being an uber-independent, endlessly interesting, rootless government employee was not in my future. Thank God.

And so when my teaching contract was up, I traveled around South East Asia for a month and flew home to dear old New Jersey. I started working at a small engineering firm, which was pretty miserable. When you wake up every morning excited as hell to leave your apartment, switching to a lonely desk job in Jersey is the freakin' worst. Luckily, that job afforded me plenty of time to look for other work. I spent hours every day on, scouring the web for jobs at international non-profits; I was sure I wanted to pursue some kind of international, humanitarian career path. The plan was to work for a few years and go back to graduate school for my MA in International Relations.

So 6 months and 80 cover letters later, I started working in NYC at InterExchange, a non-profit organization that sponsors J-1 visas for international students from all over the world. I really, really like it. I get to travel, work with loads of internationals, and wear jeans to work. Sweet.

And yet, what about school? I had always planned to get my Masters in something or other, and for the last 5 years at least I was committed to pursuing IR. As you might have guessed, things did not go according to plan. My passion for all things international began to wane at the same time my interest in nutrition became too great to ignore, right alongside my desire to work for myself.

At the moment, I am currently enrolled in the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. As a Certified Health Counselor, I work with clients to get off diets, into their clothes, and on with their lives. It's awesome. My current plans include returning to school for my masters in nutrition and continuing to work towards full-time self-employment!

I remember sitting in the Career Training office, completely clueless. Having the freedom to decide where to spend your first September out of school is exhilarating and overwhelming. There really are so many possibilities. If you've already got your path planned, don't be afraid of detours!

Alumni Experience: How I got my first job by Danielle Ain '09

How I got my first job by Danielle Ain '09

As Spring semester 2009 began and my graduation date looming over my head, I decided it was time to figure out what to do after graduation. I knew I wanted to travel and see the world so I looked into teaching English overseas. After I did a little research I found - what seemed to be - an amazing program in China where I would live for the year and teach elementary school children. After applying and securing a job there, I decided to also get some experience over the summer before I left for China in September through an internship.

While doing interviews for my thesis over my December break, I interviewed a woman whose son, Adam, had started an internet company with two of his childhood friends called Abroad101. I didn't really think much of it at the time, but when I began looking for an internship I contacted that same woman who then put me in touch with her son. He told me they were in fact looking for summer interns and that they would love if I could come interview with them. After a short trip to Boston and an interview with him and his colleague, the internship was secured and I was set - I had an internship lined up for the summer and a job waiting for me in China come September.

Then, everything changed. About a week before graduation I got an email from the program I was to do in China. The program administration felt they needed to let us know that they could "no longer sell it as a safe program" for a variety of reasons. Long story short, my year in China was no longer happening. I was now graduating without a job. I decided to take the situation in stride though because I still had an internship waiting for me at home that would give me time to look for permanent employment come September.

On June 1 when I started my internship at Abroad101 I knew that this was going to be different. There were six of us total - all under the age of 26 - who liked to have fun but also work hard. We started off the summer with casual Mondays and Fridays which quickly turned into casual Monday through Friday (yes, we got to wear sweatpants) and often had brainstorm meetings that happened over foosball games.

As the summer went by, I applied to many, many jobs and got a few interviews but was never formally offered anything. I also became increasingly happy at my internship and began giving some serious thought towards seeing if I could work there full time. Then, at the end of the summer, my bosses sat me down and gave me a formal job offer. I'd always hoped that the internship would turn into a job but I never knew it would actually happen.

It was a perfect situation because I already knew what the work environment was like and was ready for more responsibility and autonomy. I knew I would get along with my colleagues, work hard and have some fun along the way. I am still working here and loving every day. I would highly recommend working in a start up environment! There are long days and new challenges but I am never bored and yes - I still get to wear sweatpants and play foosball.

The Importance of a Thank You Note

ou gave a firm handshake, you spoke eloquently, and you really wowed the potential employer with your credentials. Know what would really push the employer over the edge and make you really stand out in the employer's mind? Send a thank you note!!

Employers have busy schedules, and even though they need to take the time to interview potential candidates for employment, employers have other tasks to complete to run their business. It is a privilege for you to have the opportunity to meet with them and that employers find something in your resume and cover letter that makes them want to meet you. Even more, sometimes the person interviewing you might not have the final decision to whether you are hired or not, and a thank you note can give that concrete proof to someone reviewing interview notes that you seriously want that job!

A thank you note really proves that you are interested in becoming a part of the staff. In your thank you note, you need to mention something from the interview that impressed you about the company. Then, send the note within 48 hours of your interview to all in attendance.

To find out more about interviewing and thank you notes, refer to the "Interviewing Guide" on the Career Center website. On the site, click the link "Interviewing" on the right side of the homepage.

Extended search options in HamNET

The internship and post-graduate listings you find on HamNET are not the only opportunities out there. Have you explored the extended search options available on HamNET?

Through NACElink Extended Search and LACN Internship/Job Postings, you will find even more positions to search through. NACElink allows you to target a career field or position and searches multiple career search websites like Simply Hired,, and Google, then compiles the results into an easy list of the most relevant positions to your search. LACN, the Liberal Arts Career Network, is like an extension of HamNET. On LACN, you will find listings from employers seeking students from liberal arts colleges and universities to fill their positions.

All the extended search links can be found under the "Jobs" tab on HamNET.

Alumni Experience: Meg Herman '09 Hard work for Options, Empowers YOU with Choices

Hard work for Options, Empowers YOU with Choices

The greatest power that a person possesses is the power to choose. –J. Martin Kohe (author)

My third grade teacher told me "you will be a teacher." I told her "never!" But by my senior year at Hamilton, it was obvious I wanted to work with children, or for children, to better their education. At the time, I still did not think a classroom was the right fit for me, so I put my focus on children's television programming--specifically Sesame Workshop, and later, Nickelodeon. Aiming for such a specific target, in such a tough economy, proved challenging and so taking the advice of the Career Center, I gave myself other options. I applied to Teach for America, New York City Teaching Fellows and attended a Carney Sandoe interview day. Additionally, because of a suggestion from one of my professors, I applied to Bank Street College of Education, a graduate school where you can earn both a masters and teaching certificate. I had absolutely NO DESIRE to go to Bank Street (I needed a break from school) but my professor insisted that she thought it would be a good fit in case I had a change of heart. After a million phone calls, talking to alumni, drafting and redrafting emails, creating connections and networking, attending meetings and interviews, and pretty much moving into Leslie Bell's office at the Career Center--it was senior week. By this time, I had to choose from the possibility of eventually getting a job in television programming at Sesame Workshop, taking a summer nanny position in the Hamptons, accepting a spot in Teach for America to teach High School Biology in Philadelphia, becoming an Assistant Teacher at a private school in Brooklyn or attending graduate school at Bank Street College of Education in NYC. I eliminated the latter almost instantly--I WAS SURE I NEEDED A BERAK FROM SCHOOL...or so I thought...Although making choices is difficult, having options is good--With choices you are empowered! Just as I eliminated graduate school from the list, I eliminated all options except to wait for an opening in children's television programming.

The summer progressed and I decided that waiting for something at Sesame Workshop could take months, maybe years. So, I got in contact with the Vice President of children's programming at our local PBS station and discussed how I would love to be an unpaid intern for their station. To stay involved with children more directly, I lead a camp trip of high school students. I also spent some of the summer relaxing (which is important after handing in senior thesis papers) and in the rest of my free time I thought and waited...but as September approached I realized I missed school A LOT and really wanted to further my educational knowledge and earn a teaching certificate and masters--which could even make me a better candidate for the field of children's television programming. My heart had changed so I contacted Bank Street College of Education and after many phone calls, asking them to readmit me into their program, (I had already declined my acceptance in May), they agreed, and the first week of September I moved to NYC ready to start graduate school but still with no job. I knew that since classes were at night I HAD to find daytime employment because rent and food were always going to be pressing matters. If I was pursuing education then I thought I should be working in a school environment. I applied everywhere--to approximately 30-40 private schools...just three called me back offering to add me to their substitute teaching list. But I knew I needed income--so I used Hamilton alumni to find a nanny position, I found another nannying position through a Bank Street job bulletin and called family and friends of friends who put me in contact with other families that needed a part-time babysitter. I even found a job at Sesame Workshop, in children's television programming, but only on a temporary as-need basis for coding data--not enough to pay rent. Sesame Workshop also had an internship available but I knew, unfortunately, I could not take this unpaid position. I started working three nanny positions and if I was not at school I was nannying. One family needed me during the weekdays and evenings. The other family wanted me a few weekend nights and the last family wanted me once a month for a full weekend Friday night staying over with them until Sunday. One day, in between everything, The British International School of New York called to ask if I would like to substitute for a few days. I came in for just two days and two months later I received a phone call from them asking if I would be interested in an open position they now had available--this landed me my first official salaried job--Hoorayy!! This teaching job and Bank Street further solidified my passion for education and now I plan to someday pursue educational policy and reform--maybe I will earn a Ph D. in Education to research the educational system in this country, or maybe a Doctorate of Educational Leadership to help lead teachers and organizations in reform. Maybe I will instead get a Masters in Administration to become a principal and charter a school or apply to an Educational Law program so I can fight for justice and better public educational systems--so many choices and options.

Currently, I am working as an Assistant Teacher at the British International School of NYC, attending graduate school, running some after school activities and nannying. Because of my now solidified and sincere passion for educational reform, I reapplied to New York City Teaching Fellows (they will make final acceptance decisions in April this year because of NYC public school budget cuts), Teach for America (they reaccepted me into their Philadelphia program but this time to teach High School English), I interviewed at another private school and I also have the option to resign my contract at the British School. Despite the difficulty I have making decisions--I believe it is important to have options. Use all of your resources, writing skills and everything you learned at Hamilton. When you are not on the Hill anymore, you still have everything you gained from your experience--which is a WHOLE LOT more than you even realize!! The education you had on the Hill has prepared you to be able to have options and make choices. And the skills you gained will carry you far if you are willing to put in the hard work and let yourself be empowered!

Alumni Experience: Ashley Langer '09 shares her story of finding her career niche

Like many seniors graduating in 2009, I felt overwhelmingly discouraged, stressed and overwhelmed with the state of the economy, the number of opportunities post-graduation and the prospect of having to decide my future with one decision. I did know that I wanted to wait a year before I went to grad school. I was tired of the school process and needed a definite break from the grind.

I used the career center at Hamilton and did a lot of research on my own. I had it set in my mind that I wanted to teach either at the elementary or high school level. I started with that lead and it led me to Teach for America. I turned in my application for the second deadline in October/November. Concurrently, I became a candidate with the placement agency called Carney Sandoe, an agency that places students with independent schools appropriate to their major(s) and interests.

I made it all the way to the final round with Teach for America, but in January, my hopes were dashed as I did not get a position. The remainder of senior year went by in a blur of hopeless applications and a few in-person and telephone interviews. I applied for anything within the education field, from teaching fellowships to assistant teacher positions. I also expanded my search to include becoming a nanny, any occupation that worked with children or something in the environmental field. HamNet was a great resource and it brought me to relevant, related websites.

By graduation, I still didn't have a job, much to my parents' dismay. I returned home to Connecticut and furiously applied to dozens of summer and 'real world' jobs. I kept at it with Carney Sandoe and I had several in-person interviews throughout the summer. Again, nothing surfaced. I returned to my old summer job at an educational day camp in July and found random, odd jobs throughout the summer. At the end of August, I learned that my local high school field hockey team had started to practice. I attended their practices as a volunteer, offering my insight and experience from my years playing the sport. As it turned out, the team lacked an assistant coach/junior varsity coach and was in dire need of one. I ended up becoming the junior varsity coach for the entire fall season.

Just as I started coaching, I found two job openings (through HamNet) in Utica. I decided to give it a try, as I knew the area and still had plenty of friends at Hamilton. The first job opening was at The Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida Counties. This position involved grant writing, among other in-office duties. I had two, in-person interviews but in the end, they chose someone with several years of grant writing experience. A few weeks later, I heard back from the second job opening and learned that I had been granted an in-person interview. The position was at For The Good, Inc., a small non-profit located in the Cornhill section of the city.

The rest is history, as I received the job due to my resume, writing sample and excellent recommendations. My boss turned out to be a Kirkland alumna, and I am constantly surrounded by Hamilton alumni. I currently work as a community organizer at For The Good. My main responsibilities are organizing and managing the Study Buddy Club, a tutoring and mentoring program for at-risk, minority youth, and the urban, community gardens located around the city of Utica. I also edit, write and lay out the Utica Phoenix, a multicultural, monthly news magazine of the Mohawk Valley.

I still plan to go to grad school at some point, but I have so many ambitions and desires that I don't want to narrow down my options just yet. I'd like to go abroad for a few years to learn a language and I'd also like to work with ESL students or refugees. I want to do something environmentally based and I want to travel. For the moment however, I'll enjoy my job and ponder the infinite possibilities out there. Seniors, things happen for a reason, despite how cliché that may sound. Don't get discouraged by the lack of jobs out there. There is a niche for everyone (as I have found out) and it just takes some digging to get where you want to go.

Give Us an 'I' - for Intern

From: Jobs at (

Give Us an 'I' - for Intern by Leslie Whitaker

Here's one word of advice for college students thinking ahead to graduation and recent grads still looking for a job. And it's not - as young Ben (Dustin Hoffman) was advised in the 1960s movie The Graduate - "plastics." It's "internship."

While barely 30 percent of employers consider a college transcript useful when evaluating a recent graduate for employment, two-thirds of them would consider a supervisor's assessment of an internship or community-based project "very" or "fairly" useful in evaluating their potential for success, according to a survey by Association of American Colleges and Universities. Be sure to keep copies of your positive evaluations and offer them as part of your packet of application materials.

Selecting an internship with a focus on science and technology, or one with an international flavor, can help a new graduate applying for a job stand out from his or her peers. The percentage of employers who want colleges to place more emphasis on these areas are 82 percent and 70 percent, respectively.

In addition to impressing prospective employers and gaining valuable experience, interning gives students a chance to examine a chosen career field from the inside out. Based on what they learn, they may decide to pursue a slightly different position, or even switch fields.

Those interested in moving to a new city may find that securing an internship before searching for a full-time job may make for a smoother transition.

Internships and co-op programs have become powerful recruiting tools for employers, according to research by The National Association of Colleges and Employers.

While budget cuts and downsizing have forced employers to hire fewer interns, the programs have become an important pipeline for new talent. Among the findings of the most recent NACE study, published in March 2009:

• About 35 percent of full-time entry-level college hires from the class of 2007-08 were from company internship programs.

• Employers extended offers of full-time employment to an average of 67.7 percent of their 2007-08 interns. More than four out of five of their offers, on average, were accepted, the highest intern acceptance rate NACE has reported since it began collecting data in 2001.

• Most internships (98.6 percent) are paid. The average hourly wage in 2008: $17.13.

How to Find a Job Using LinkedIn

Careers in Psychology Resource

This website has licensing information, career information, and psychology field articles that dive into the fundamentals of each area.

Networking: Why join Linked In?

By joining LinkedIn, you create a profile that summarizes your professional expertise and accomplishments. You can then form enduring connections by inviting trusted contacts to join LinkedIn and connect to you. Your network consists of your connections, your connections’ connections, and the people they know, linking you to a vast number of qualified professionals and experts. Specifically, through your network you can:

* Manage the information that’s publicly available about you as a Hamilton student and soon to be "professional"

* Find and be introduced to Hamilton alumni who also studied your major; by viewing their profile you can not only learn what they are currently doing but view their career path since graduating from Hamilton
* Discover inside connections that can help you land jobs and internships
* Receive notices of internships and job listings related to your concentration
* Stay in touch with current classmates long after you graduate

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