HamiltonExplore Sheds Light on Future Career Opportunities

Ashleigh Stephan '15 and Dr. Frank Falcone, Jr. '86.
Ashleigh Stephan '15 and Dr. Frank Falcone, Jr. '86.

During the two weeks before they returned to campus, some 143 Hamilton sophomores got a close look at possible careers as they took part in the third HamiltonExplore, sponsored by the Career Center.

HamiltonExplore offers the opportunity to “shadow” (observe) a Hamilton alumnus/a or parent in the workplace for a day or part of a day. It gives students the chance to see what a professional in a selected field does on a typical workday. By observing the nature of the work first-hand and asking questions of the sponsor, students can acquire insight into a career field and determine the suitability of that career.

This year 199 alumni and/or parent hosted students during the shadow period of January 2-18.

Emma Bowman ’15 said she enjoyed spending a day at HarperCollins with Laurel Symonds ’10. “Perhaps what most made me feel at home was that as Ms. Symonds showed us manuscripts and sample paperback layouts, I realized that at the heart of it all editors are people who geek out about books. And I just love that.

Symonds arranged for Bowman and fellow shadowee Ariana Levi ’15 to meet with her coworkers in marketing, publicity and intellectual property.  Bowman remarked, “I think, based on this experience, that I could happily pursue editing as a profession. Of course, the shadowing only lasted a day, but it still gave me a strong feeling of being at home in such a working environment.” 

Huong (Kate) Nguyen ’15 found her sponsor Joshua Cooper ’00 at Harvard Engineering School to be a helpful resource.  “Josh didn't get to his position with the conventional track, so he had a lot of interesting experience and perspective,“ Nguyen explained.  She met with three of his colleagues and, as a result, “in the short time I was there I got a lot of interesting accounts about the different paths to people’s job, as well as the little differences between each.”

Meghan O’Sullivan ’15 explored the non-profit world as she spent a day with Kate Parker-Burgard ’84, director of character education at St. Luke’s School in New Canaan, Conn.  “I had the opportunity to learn what it’s like to work in the non-profit sector and about varying components of education via introductions to Kate’s colleagues,” said O’Sullivan. “Overall, it was a fantastic experience to learn about a number of careers related to leadership, education and community service.”

Student participants appreciated the time and thought that sponsors put into their shadowing days. Hannah Fine ’15 shadowed Pat Fili-Krushel P’14, the chairman of NBCUniversal News Group. Her day included a personal tour of 30 Rock and one-on-one meetings with the vice president of talent development and the senior vice president of communications, as well as the chance to watch the tapings of the Today Show, WNBC News, and Nightly News from their respective control rooms.

“I really enjoyed learning about all of the different aspects of news production,” said Fine, “and it was such a pleasure to meet Pat and hear about her ascension to this position: she is a true role model, and it was clear that she put real effort into putting together a day that was suited to my interests.”

By providing a realistic “day-in-the-life” of its sponsors, HamiltonExplore also can help participants learn that there are aspects of certain professions that they might not like.  Rosemery Rodriguez ’15 saw firsthand the busy life of a physician when she shadowed Dr. Helen Towers P’13 at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. “Anyone who works with Dr. Towers is bound to learn many things from her,” Rodriguez said.  “Her busy life was something I experience myself when I have a lot of things on my plate. Although I enjoyed it and it’s a part of my nature, it made me question whether I would want that in my career.”

Elaine Tam ’14 was encouraged in her idea of pursuing a career in social media and marketing after her day shadowing Megan Herman ’09 at  Pearson Publishing. “I use a good deal of social media for connecting with family and friends and often for procrastination,” Tam explained. “At Pearson, I was able to experience first-hand how social media can be utilized to further a business/corporation and I really enjoyed this aspect. My experience there solidifies my interest in marketing and further encourages me to engage with social media as part of a career.”

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