Macy Lawler ’16 graduated with a degree in Biology and minor in Classical Studies. After working at Boston Sports and Shoulder Center for a year as a Medical Assistant, she now works as the practice’s Clinical Research Coordinator.
Though I entered Hamilton with a clear vision that I was going to apply to medical school, I didn’t give much thought to the process itself and instead focused on fitting in my pre-med requirements with my other academic interests. As I planned my semester abroad in Copenhagen for junior year, I got more serious about learning what taking the MCAT and applying to medical schools really entailed and quickly became overwhelmed. I’d always assumed that I’d need to take a year off after graduating from Hamilton, but I hadn’t realized that if I did, I’d still be spending much of my senior year studying for the MCAT and working on my application while taking a full course load and working on a year-long thesis. For the good of my mental health (and my grades), I happily fell into a plan to work in the “real world” for a few years before going back to school, taking the MCAT after graduating and applying in 2017.
Through Hamilton, I applied to and was accepted for a position as a medical assistant at Boston Sports and Shoulder Center (BSSC), a busy private orthopedic practice outside of Boston. As clinical support for the providers, the MAs ensure that each clinic runs smoothly by rooming patients, performing post-operative care such as suture removal and casting, preparing in office procedures, and fitting durable medical equipment. In addition, the MAs are responsible for addressing patient questions, concerns, and medication requests over the phone, acting as a go-between for the patients and providers. The days were often long and exhausting and it certainly isn’t the most glamorous of positions, but the level of hands on patient contact and clinical experience is hard to match. What I thought I knew about working with patients was completely upended and my ability to empathize deepened, particularly through working with our most difficult patients.
What no one told me about the real world is how exhausting it was — how after working on my feet all day and commuting home, it was going to be hard to sit down and relearn organic chemistry or take practice MCAT sections. Figuring out how to set realistic expectations and to follow through on them wasn’t easy at first, especially when most of the recent-grad world you’re in is enjoying the newfound freedom of not having homework. For me, this meant concentrating my studying on the weekends and using the weeknights for reading and review. After the MCAT hurdle, there’s still work to be done between your personal statement, committee interview, and come summer, secondary essays… so be prepared to be busy for many months. The process was far longer and more grueling than I had expected and even now, over a year after starting my MCAT studying, there are many months to go of interviews and anxious waiting.
In July 2017, after a year as MA, I took on the role of Clinical Research Coordinator at BSSC. Acting as the central link between patients, surgeons, and our affiliate hospital, I’m responsible for implementing and executing clinical trials, outcomes registries, and other retrospective studies. This role allows me to maintain some of the patient contact I enjoyed as a MA as I guide subjects through the research processes, while exploring another side of the practice. Sitting behind a desk most days, I do miss the constant patient interaction of my former position, but I can see the positive impact of the research we participate in to improve our level of care
I wouldn’t say I was the most prepared applicant and I certainly learned most of what I know about the process along the way, so don’t worry if you don’t have every step planned out. Taking time off after Hamilton allowed me to fully savor my senior year on the hill, take the process at my own pace, and to gain real maturity and perspective. Applying to medical school is a difficult process for a reason and you get through it because medicine is your passion. So, to any future applicants, from my perspective there is no right “plan” or timeline. Consider your options, do what makes sense for you, and be sure to get enough sleep.
Alumni Insight: Working through the recession to find my way to criminal justice feat. Andre Chapman ’07
Andre Chapman graduated from Hamilton in 2007 with a degree in Philosophy. He has worked for various companies in the following fields: legal, managerial, administrative, compliance and financial crimes investigation. He completed his graduate studies in 2010 with an MCJ (Master of Criminal Justice) from Boston University (BU).
When I left Hamilton, my intention was to go directly to law school; however, I took the LSAT on the fly, and failed miserably. It was like a punch to the gut but this gave me time to take a step back, dust myself off, and re-orient myself. I liked the law and knew I wanted to stay in the field, so I started interning at law firms during the summers as a paralegal. I thought it would be good to continue in that fashion to feel out the field of law and see if it really was for me. After interning I interviewed at Proskauer Rose LLP, a high profile intellectual property (IP) law firm that represented Facebook during the dispute between Zuckerberg and ConnectU. Luckily, my interview went well and I ended up getting the job. I was ecstatic! I had secured a job right out of Hamilton.
I did not last at the law firm because I soon realized that my interest in the law was less about IP and more about criminal justice. I had a detour in my career at this time because the markets crashed and jobs were hard to come by. A family member recommended I come and work with them at a medical equipment company. The pay was not great, but it was great working at the same company as two of my cousins. I eventually got to help manage drivers who were delivering medical equipment throughout all of New England. This job enabled me to develop my skills in the area of information management and information technology. I had been a student technology consultant for ITS at Hamilton in the Burke Library, where I learned how to help people with their computer software problems. As I helped people with their computer problems in this role, I became better with computer programs and my agility with IT altogether. My strengthened IT skills were put to great use when I was analyzing data for the entire medical equipment company to show productivity and efficiency via Microsoft Excel data input, and analyzing charts and graphs.
My frustration with low pay and little advancement in my career during the recession motivated me back towards the law. I continued my search for legal related jobs and I eventually found a position open at the nation’s leading arbitration services firm. Although the pay was not much greater, I was just happy to move on and work on developing my career. I was assigned to administering arbitration for the ADR (alternative dispute resolution) process for labor dispute cases between union and employers. Much of the work I covered was for municipalities and local labor unions. Even though I was not getting the exposure to criminal justice, I did enjoy figuratively playing referee between the wronged employee and the offending employer, and vice versa. I was interested in shifting gears though and eventually attended an informational session about professional degrees offered at Boston University (BU). Much to my joy and interest I found them to be advertising a degree in criminal justice. I actually signed up for the program and started going to school at night and continued with my day job. I will say it was not easy. Any misstep with school work or daily planning made it hard to catch up with so little time between work, homework, and attending classes.
Since salaries were starting to rebound after the recession, I had started to refine my job search and look for an introduction into the criminal investigator field. I got a hit off of a job in the BU database using the keyword “investigator.” The word was found in the term “principal investigator,” which is a researcher at a university/college. I was so happy to start a new job, even if it was not in criminal justice because I was finally in a position where I felt respected as a person and connected with my boss. Interesting enough, the Hamilton network enabled me to stand out among other candidates during the interview. When my soon to be boss was reviewing my resume she mentioned she was engaged to Hamilton College alum, David Winer (‘05). She said she loved small liberal arts colleges and Hamilton was great. In the research compliance office at BU there was much data to collect and manage and it was my duty to collect the financial conflict of interest forms from all researchers at Boston University and Boston Medical Center. At BU I flourished because I was given space to grow and to expand upon my IT, coding, and VBA skills and the work environment was a good fit.
A DREAM DEFERRED
I was working on improving the data collection program for the university and the hospital. I enjoyed this work so much and would go to sleep at night dreaming about ways I could improve the system. I would come in early and stay late trying to improve the program. I might have stayed at BU had it not been for a major administration change. After this change I realized it was time for me to leave and finally find a job that was in line with my degree in criminal justice.
I started my search again and this time found work as an AML (anti-money laundering) investigator in the financial intelligence unit at Citizens Financial Group, Inc. I would more aptly call it a financial crimes investigator because the investigations are in many financial related crime such as structuring, terrorist financing, tax evasion, Ponzi Schemes, romance scams, elder abuse, fraud, etc. There are no words for the joy I have of finally being in what I would consider to be my “final destination.” Although it may not be my last job, I am role that is in line with my graduate degree and it is fulfilling to be working in a field where my interest lies. Every day I am learning so much and applying my education and skills to their max. The journey has been tough, but it is my journey and I am proud. Hamilton played a major role in preparing me to present myself with my best foot forward in every facet of this journey.
Alumni Insight: The Nonlinear Path to Council on International Educational Exchange feat. Meaghan Fullman ’09
Meaghan Fullman ’09 graduated with a degree in Hispanic Studies and Government. She is currently a Senior Enrollment Specialist at the Council on International Education Exchange.
My path to CIEE (Council on International Educational Exchange) is anything but linear. While studying at Hamilton, I focused my coursework on government and Hispanic studies. I dreamed of becoming an Immigration Lawyer and using my Spanish to help navigate others through our difficult legal system. I wanted to make a positive impact on others lives. This desire led me to my first job as an Immigration Paralegal in Boston, MA.
The law firm in which I worked was small and only specialized in immigration law. There were two paralegals and four lawyers, for a total of six in the firm. None of the lawyers did trial law, so a typical workday included responding to emails, making calls to clients or government officials, filing, processing checks, and mailing visa paperwork out to the government. We processed H-1B, non-immigrant working visas, as well as TN visas, some F1 visas, and green card applications. I remember one conversation in particular that shaped my future career decisions. One lawyer told me that in law school you can’t pick what you specialize in until close to graduation and all law students are required to stick to a pretty structured curriculum. This resonated with me because the only type of law I was interested in was immigration law. I started to think that the investment and time to pursue a law degree to only take 1-3 courses on subjects of interest wasn’t a good choice. I also missed interacting with people; working in the law firm was relatively quiet and independent. By the end of my year at the firm, I knew a law degree wasn’t for me and I started to look at other ways to work in international settings.
The next two jobs I held in Boston, introduced me to education. My first position in education was at a student travel company called Explorica Educational Travel. In this role, I did sales and consulting to teachers all over the US planning trips with their students abroad. I loved this work as it allowed me to work with educators and use my own experience traveling abroad to influence their decisions. In this role, I learned two important things that forever changed my professional goals. First, I liked sales and second, I liked working in education. After two years, I landed a dream job at the Boston University School of Law. In this role, it combined all of my prior interests. I worked with college level students coming to the US to earn a law degree. I felt privileged to work at one of the most renowned schools in Boston, plus professionally it allowed me to take classes at their School of Education to put towards a masters degree. My path into education wasn’t traditional, but I felt like I was finally in the field that I was destined to be in.
BU Law was an incredible experience. I gained exposure to lots of different sides of higher education including: admissions, budgeting, marketing, event planning, and professional development. I would have stayed in this role forever, but my then fiancé at the time and I decided to move to Maine. At this same point in my life, I started an online Masters in Education at Northeastern University which I finished after we moved to Maine. Maine is incredible, but it has taken me several years to get back to where I was in Boston. There is very little in the sense of international student work in Maine. Some colleges have positions for international students, but these are few and far between and competitive to get. I’ve held positions at Kaplan University and the University of New England, doing student advising and outreach. Then after a few years in Maine, I landed my current job at CIEE. CIEE is a nonprofit that began back in 1947. CIEE’s work and mission focuses on academic exchanges on a variety of levels. The different lines of business include: high school inbound and outbound, college student abroad and GAP year programming, teach abroad, TEFL certification, camp, work and travel, intern and trainee, marketing, IT, finance, and HR. As a young professional, it’s great to work for a company with such diverse lines of work. As an educator, it’s fulfilling to work with a company that values intercultural exchanges. My team, F1 High School Study USA works with high schools all across the US. We send high school students from all around the world to study on semester or full year exchanges. F1 students can stay at public high schools in the US for one year and earn a diploma or play sports. Or, they can enroll for multiple years at private day or boarding schools (and earn a diploma/play sports). It’s a great place to work. The advice I’d give to new graduates at Hamilton is below:
1- Extracurriculars Matter: think about your passions and what has been the most fulfilling experience for you in college/life so far.
2-Take a Personality Test: this will give you some insight into what type of work suits you best and also what type of working environment suits you best.
3-Don’t be Afraid: rarely you’ll find a job that meets all your needs, don’t overlook a job if there are aspects that will help you develop for a better, future role.
4-Be Realistic about Compensation: if you have debt, make sure your salary will cover those payments.
5-Don’t be Embarrassed about Your Career: family and friends may not always agree with your decisions.
6-Stay Connected to Hamilton: sometimes connecting with alumni is all you need to get back on track and figure out what direction to go in next.
Jesse Browner-Hamlin graduated from Hamilton in 2007 with degrees in Religious Studies and Hispanic Studies. He currently works in the music industry at Q Prime, an artist management company in New York City.
After graduating, I was awarded the Bristol Fellowship. My year long field research was on drumming and drum crafting within the different religious traditions of Fiji, Japan, India, Morocco and Cuba. Though I thoroughly enjoyed studying ethnomusicology, I quickly realized it was a very small field and I pivoted into the business side of the music industry.
Since 2011, I’ve been working at Q Prime, an artist management company based in New York City. Founded by Cliff Burnstein and Peter Mensch in 1981, we represent ~25 acts, predominantly in the rock world (Metallica, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Muse, The Black Keys, Cage The Elephant, to namedrop a few). The company has about 50 employees worldwide with additional offices in Nashville, London and Los Angeles.
What is artist management and what do managers do?
The terribly concise answer is, well, everything! Within an artist’s career, managers are the hub. We deal directly with the talent and all subsequent partners: the record labels, booking agents, concert promoters, digital service providers (e.g. Spotify/iTunes/YouTube), traditional retailers, radio stations, publishers, publicists, et cetera. Everything runs through us: we’re the quarterback on the artist’s team. Short of picking up a mic and guitar, artist management is the closest you can get to the stage.
My job specifically at the company is as a Digital Marketing Manager and Day-to-Day Manager.
On the digital marketing side, I manage the online properties of 11 of our artists. There are five other (awesome) folks who work in the Digital Department, so it’s a pretty tight-knit crew. We develop creative marketing campaigns to keep fans engaged, while promoting the latest album/single/video/tour. Digital marketing goes well beyond social media: we’re involved with anything that touches the internet: from the online advertising to building websites to running fan clubs. In essence, the job is to facilitate the artist’s creative vision online. Some artists are very involved with their online presence, others don’t give a hoot. It can be a delicate balance to sell records, tickets or merch while also keeping fans engaged and happy. Each artist is handled differently, according to the fanbase, so there is never a formulaic approach.
I am also the day-to-day manager for a band called Foals. I look after them in North America only (they are based in the UK). Day-to-day is an entirely different beast than digital: it’s working more closely with the artist and with our partners. It’s a lot of coordinating the artist’s schedule – often months (and sometimes years) in advance. Day-to-day requires a bit more travel. Half of management is showing up, so if there’s a big show/festival or special event like a music video shoot, it’s important to be there to show support. A lot of late nights indeed!
To work in the music industry – and specifically in management – you need to be very passionate about music! This is not a 9-to-5 job. Cliché as it sounds, it truly can be 24/7 and there is often a very blurred line between your personal and professional life. Much of the job is putting out fires, so there is never a dull moment. No two days are ever the same. All that said, it certainly is a blast and if you interested in pursuing a career in the music industry and have any questions, please reach out to me at email@example.com.
Shannon Cuthbert graduated from Hamilton in 2014 with a degree in Psychology and Creative Writing. She currently works for BBC Worldwide as an Assistant Manager of Licensing and E-commerce.
“What job would you take if you thought no one was watching?”
I ask because sometimes, especially senior year, it can feel like the end of a marathon, with teachers, friends, and family all cheering you on to the finish line that is the Real World. Despite their best intentions, their advice and perspectives, which have been shaped over the years by their own unique life experiences, can sometimes cloud your awareness of what you’re really looking for, what you hope to achieve in your nascent career.
Senior year, I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices that opened up, the number of industries that could still be explored: should I pursue clinical psychology or social work, editing or marketing, or something entirely unknown to me? In the end, I decided to try out working in marketing at a media company I respected, finding a position at BBC Worldwide in their consumer products division. This was unfamiliar territory, though I found that amidst working on contracts for licensing deals, assisting with email marketing, and creating brand strategy decks, my team was happy to let me carve out space for my love of writing as well through creating a BBC Shop blog and copywriting for our website and catalog. I have learned so much about a field I knew little about, and it has turned into a great opportunity to pursue both old interests and new.
Once you’ve found a new job, it’s easy to become engulfed within it, but try to find time to reflect on it too. I would encourage everyone to seek a job that gives you space: space to step back every now and then and think about where this path is leading you, what you’re learning, and what you’re giving back; space to grow and pursue unique interests of your own, whether fostered within the office setting or nurtured in your own free time. Both like and unlike those well-meaning teachers, friends, and family members, you have an infinite number of memories, experiences, and perspectives that you bring to each situation you are in: find a workplace that allows you to bring forward words, ideas, and actions that no one but you could have dreamed up. And as they say, once a Hamilton student, always a Hamilton student. Although daily life may get in the way, you should never stop studying the world around you. There are any number of ways to do so, whether by volunteering, traveling, reading, or creating, so finding a job with a work-life balance will allow you space to continue walking down these many unexplored roads.
Each job experience you have will be vitally different based on any number of constantly-changing factors: the people who work there, the larger challenges that industry is facing, and perhaps most importantly, the point you are at right now. Who you’ve been, who you are, who you want to become: we are all shape shifters in one way or another, trying to come to terms with ourselves and how we fit into the world around us, and there’s nothing wrong with wanting to pause and think about how you see yourself and thus what type of work will fit you best right now and five years from now.
Ultimately, until you jump in and try it on for size, there’s no easy way to figure out if a job or organization is right for you. As much research as you may carry out, each job experience is a microcosm of the real world: sometimes loud, overwhelming, and filled with challenges, often rewarding and full of unexpected delights.
Which brings me to my final point: you may have no idea what your “dream job” is or how to get there, and that’s ok. In fact, you may find the dream changes as fast as you do, and that’s ok too. But whatever you do, I would challenge you to continue examining the place you’re in and learning from it. Take note of what frustrates you and what brings you joy, what holds you back and what helps you grow, and only by becoming aware of how you are and who you are can you push yourself closer and closer to that dream and find yourself traveling places you can only now imagine.
Grady Vigneau ‘10 is currently the Activities Assistant Manager at Devil’s Thumb Ranch Resort and Spa in Tabernash, Colorado. At Hamilton, Grady was a Sociology major and played Varsity Baseball.
As the end of my senior year came to a close, my thoughts could not have been more muddled on the subject of a career. It felt like I was the only one going into the summer without a job lined up. Did I want to do what my friends were doing? Where did I want to go? The world seemed like a large place and pinpointing a location was difficult. My resume was paper thin (haha!), because every summer I chose to clean pools and play baseball on the South Shore of Massachusetts. Meanwhile, many of my classmates were in Boston or New York participating in internships. Driving my Pontiac Vibe on the verge of 200,000 miles with a load of chlorine and pool equipment as soon as I finished work on my way to a baseball game sure was a fun way to make some money over the summer and enjoy my favorite activity. To me, it was worth skipping those internships for jobs that I was not even sure I wanted.
Once graduation rolled around I was still one of the jobless ones, partially because I was not sure what I wanted to do. I had taken the practice LSAT and was entertaining law school or a paralegal job. I thought about getting into coaching baseball or, thanks to all that I learned from Coach Adey, becoming a weight coach. With nothing else on my plate, I headed back for one more summer of baseball and cleaning pools. Honestly, it felt pretty good having a stress-free summer after graduation. It took some of the pressure off when I made that decision. I knew things would open up for me. In fact, after reaching out to a few alumni I had two job offers after just a few weeks! They were not jobs I had anticipated applying for, but after speaking with my fellow Hamilton graduates who were working there, I felt that they could be good fits.
So, I ended up taking a Category Associate job at Wayfair (at the time CSN Stores) where I essentially helped my boss run an online furniture store. It was a growing company both in employees and in business levels. I learned so much during my time there, but it wasn’t really what I wanted to do. So, here goes the craziness of the next few years. I ended up exploring that baseball coaching career, and despite the compensation being much lower, I felt that I should do it because it was what I am passionate about. So I did! Over the next few years I ended up as an assistant coach at Bates, back at Hamilton for a season, across the sea in Germany to be a player/coach, back to the US to start my Graduate Program in Sports Leadership at Northeastern University, off to Auburn, NY to intern for the Washington Nationals and then over to Omaha to intern for the Kansas City Royals. In between internships I would head back home to Vermont and work for my family’s business, a youth ski lodge. It was hectic, and pushing that Pontiac Vibe well over 200,000 miles because I was not able to afford a new car was stressful. Working a different job every 6 months was stressful, and feeling like I had no place to really call home was stressful. The worst part was that I no longer felt like baseball was my passion. So I decided to head back to my childhood home and work for my family for a bit. It was a tough decision, and felt like I was letting down all the people that helped me get to where I was and my family and friends who were so excited about my career path. In the end, it was the best one I could have made.
During that time at home I thought about what it was I really wanted to do. I have realized that sometimes it takes odd jobs and exploring areas that you never imagined to figure out what you really want. Through this journey, the most important lesson I learned was that Hamilton taught me how to learn. Taking a wide range of classes and studying so many new things trained my mind how to handle learning. In the real world that means I am able to try new jobs without as much, if any, prior experience and dive in quickly. Explaining this during interviews shows an awareness and confidence that can really impress an interviewer. Furthermore, deciding to change my career trajectory because I was not happy was the best decision I could have made.
After a few years at home I decided to look into other hospitality jobs, something I never thought I would pursue after growing up in that environment. I found a job in Colorado at Devil’s Thumb Ranch, working on the sales team. It was a move to get to Colorado. Finding a job that I had experience with after doing sales for my family’s lodge facilitated that move. I did not love it, but I loved the area and the change of pace. After about five months an opportunity opened up in the Activities Department at the Ranch and I was able to transfer. I am now the Activities Assistant Manager and I am working in a field I always knew I was passionate about (getting outside!), but never really thought I would be able to find a job in. I am able to oversee a retail and rental shop, manage a staff of great people who share my passion and spend time outside leading bike rides, zip line tours, and other fun activities.
If there is one thing I would like students to take out of my odd “career” path it would be this: it takes time to find your passion and a passion that translates well into a job. It would be great if we all knew what our calling was when we graduated, but it just is not that easy. Take what you learned in school and through your experiences and use that to find your way. Explore some jobs you had not previously considered, take a job just to move somewhere else, if there is something you are passionate about that does not seem like a possible career move, dig a little deeper and ensure that you have explored all the possibilities. You might be surprised with what you find.
Daniel Feinberg graduated in 2012 as a Biology Major. He is currently pursuing a PhD at University of Washington’s School of Environmental and Forest Sciences in Seattle, WA. We asked Daniel to share his wisdom about life after Hamilton and how biology majors can prep for grad school and more.
What have you been up to since leaving Hamilton?
The summer after I graduated from Hamilton (2012), I worked as a Paleobiology Teaching Assistant at Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Talented Youth on the Franklin & Marshall campus in Lancaster, PA. This position inspired me to pursue further teaching opportunities during graduate school. From 2012 to 2014, I earned my MS in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation from the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL. Currently, I am pursuing a PhD at the University of Washington’s School of Environmental and Forest Sciences in Seattle, WA. Along the way, I have been teaching and working as a Research Assistant. In my spare time, I enjoy Seattle’s music scene and nearby parks. I also met my fiancée here!
What was your experience at Hamilton like?
I was a Biology major and participated in a variety of campus organizations, such as WHCL. Although several of my favorite courses and professors were in the Biology Department, I also appreciated the open curriculum and explored other areas, including Economics and Literature. I made close friends living in Wertimer as a freshman and trekking up the hill through the snow. During the fall of my junior year, I left campus to participate in the Semester in Environmental Science at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA (I highly recommend this program). The summer before my senior year, I researched invasive plants in the glens around Hamilton, under the advisement of Professor Bill Pfitsch; this project helped me to develop ideas for my Senior Thesis and subsequent research projects.
In what ways did it prepare you (or not prepare you) for your following MS and PhD candidacy?
Hamilton prepared me well for the academic rigor of graduate school and for communicating my work (both orally and in writing).
What does an average day look like, between being a student and university instructor?
Every day is different! This fall, I am teaching a class (Management of Wildland Recreation and Amenities) and gearing up for my dissertation, along with preparing research papers for publication and keeping an eye out for grants and fellowships.
What are the challenges and rewards of working in environmental science?
I believe that complex environmental problems require interdisciplinary solutions. Therefore, I strive to learn from and integrate elements of many different disciplines (e.g., ecology; political science; psychology; urban planning). This approach can be both challenging and rewarding.
What advice do you have for students looking to get a head start in the field?
Familiarize yourselves with four types of employers in environmental science: academia, consulting firms, government agencies, and non-profit organizations. Make the most of your summers by working for at least one of these (I worked for a government agency, the US Fish & Wildlife Service). If you are considering graduate school, read peer-reviewed papers and think about how you could contribute something original to the author’s research.