Communications boot camp inspires students

By Kaitlin McCabe ’16

For students educated through Hamilton’s communications-driven curriculum, finding a profession in this particular field seems to be an obvious path to follow.  Acknowledging this common trend, the Hamilton College Career Center decided to host a day-long “boot camp” program in New York City on Saturday, March 23 with two major goals: for students to learn more about broad areas of the communications industry and also to network with alumni in order to explore internship and job possibilities.

Mary Evans, the executive director of the Career Center, was a part of the program’s development from first discussion.  “The concept of an all-day “boot camp” program developed because we realized that the alumni are a tremendous educational and networking resource for students.”

We have Hamilton alumni working at all levels in all areas of communications and they really want to help current students succeed in their path of career exploration and development,” she explained.  In order to expand students’ familiarity with both the communications industry and Hamilton’s alumni network, the Career Center reached out to various alums with careers in different areas of the field.

Evans also emphasizes the Career Center’s desire to feature both senior professionals and recent graduates.  This, they felt, would provide students with the opportunity to hear first-hand experiences about successful networking, internship, and job search strategies.

Dozens of students participating in the event gathered at the Publicis Healthcare Communications Group facility in the heart of New York City.  The day began with a welcome and keynote address from Sam Welch ’86, the Global Group President of Publicis Healthcare Communications Group, during which the alumnus emphasized the importance of distinguishing oneself as an applicant for any position.

Immediately following his message was a panel of alumni speakers representing different graduate years and areas of the communications industry.  Moderated by Tom Butta ‘78 (CEO, 21Weeks, Inc), the panel featured Taso Mouhteros ‘91 (Co-founder & President, PLUM Agency)?, David Norman ‘82  (Managing Director & Owner, Kitchen Public Relations) , Allison Kane ‘87 (President, AllisonCKane Consulting), Michael Stone ‘72 (CEO, Beanstalk) and Colby Dennison ’07 (Producer, R/GA).

This question and answer period encouraged students to focus on developing their “personal story,” the experiences that shaped their interest in communications and caused them to find their professional identities.

Before engaging in a period of networking, students and alumni joined in small groups for lunch.   In this intimate setting, the professionals gave students advice on particular topics, such as interview strategies and writing effective cover letters.

The Communications Boot Camp has generated positive feedback from participating Hamilton students, emphasizing that the program was one that has long been needed. The Career Center remains optimistic for the future success of students that eagerly participated in the program.

Evans commented, “We especially hope that the program heightened student awareness that they have much to learn and many resources—including the Career Center and including alumni and parent working in the field.”  Abby Taylor, the associate director of employer relations in the Career Center, hopes that students left with new recognition that “[Hamilton students] are a part of [an] amazing… network” of alumni dedicated to helping those on the Hill.

There is no doubt that upon leaving the facility on Saturday, Hamilton students were not only better informed about the communications industry but inspired to develop their own, unique strategies for success in any field of their choosing.  Maggie Haag ’15 said, “I attended the Communications Bootcamp not really knowing what to expect–I’m not a Communications major, and have never even taken a class in that department. However, after spending most of Saturday listening to and interacting with alumni, I realized that any career incorporates elements of communication skills. Whatever career path I choose to go down, I’ll always keep in mind the importance of networking, asking questions, and constantly taking risks.”  Her reaction to the program proves the skills students are taught at during their Hamilton careers will ultimately be extremely beneficial no matter what path they decide to follow.


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