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Opinion

Hamilton should expand post-grad resources

By Patrick English '15

February 6, 2014

Starting this year, Hamilton will become one of a few schools to participate in the University of Rochester Medical School Early Assurance Program. The program offers an eight-week research program at the university between their junior and senior year among other benefits. The Early Assurance program also gives students a chance to become well-rounded individuals by studying abroad, participating in  capstone projects, engaging in the community and broadening their academic experiences to include coursework in the social sciences and humanities.

This program is a great advantage for students interested in medical school and adds to a long list of post-graduate planning services at Hamilton. The Washington, D.C. and New York City programs provide students with the chance to gain career related experience and the resources they need. Study abroad programs can lead to work and networking opportunities and moreover they make students look more worldly to prospective employers. The College offers an impressive number of research opportunities for students in all disciplines from history to biology, an asset to anyone hoping to enroll in a graduate program. Rather than giving privilege to pre-med students, the Early Assurance program simply adds to Hamilton’s breadth of career-related opportunities in all fields.

The Career Center has also been instrumental as a resource for students as they prepare to enter the real world. Peer Advisors and Peer Presenters are available for in-office appointments five days a week to review resumes and cover letters and to provide advice for internship and job-seeking students. It also provides Hamilton students with hands-on experience through programs such as Hamilton Explore that give students a window into the job world they would not otherwise have.

The Career Center also provides a number of incentive-based programs that help students  to make them more attractive to prospective employers. These include completion of resumes and cover letters, which will open up internship funding and networks for students.

That being said, there are a number of career-related areas in which Hamilton can improve. While it provides opportunities for majors such as chemistry or economics that have obvious next steps, the same cannot be said for concentrations such as history, English, or philosophy, where the relationship between undergraduate study and post-graduate work is not necessarily one-to-one. Both current students and online magazines have berated students repeatedly for studying these subjects because of the lack of obvious, readily available jobs for their majors. With all these pressures, students in these concentrations are in need of more resources to explore their careers after graduation.

The Career Center could certainly do more to put the minds of these students at ease and set them up for a better future. While Hamilton highlights that former history majors have gone on to prestigious professions such as a professor at Tufts University or a Foreign Service Officer to the U.S. Embassy in Dakar, the College rarely provides the resources that result in these professions, at least not before the students graduate.

In this way, Hamilton is privileging the pre-med students, but it is also privileging economics and government majors. Students that study these subjects are much more prepared for the American job market than their counterparts in the humanities. Prospective employers will often reject students engaged in subjects that do not have strict career tracks, despite their education at a top liberal arts school.

Professor of History Robert Paquette highlights this problem in his recent article titled “Many of the Best Universities Produce the Worst Employees.” While Paquette’s piece focuses more on problems for students with open curriculums who do not take core classes such as economics, math or history, it shows that employment is not a sure thing for Hamilton graduates.

This tight employment market makes it more urgent for every discipline to have something like this Early Assurance Program or the D.C. and New York programs. Every student deserves equal treatment in terms of career services and opportunities, even if they are a bit harder to find and understand for some subjects.

The Rochester Early Assurance Program adds to a long list of things that Hamilton is doing right in terms of career services. However, there is always room for improvement. Hamilton needs to provide equal treatment in terms of career opportunities to all of its students. As previous programs such as Rochester’s have shown, if the College can get these ventures off the ground now, they will grow quickly with support from other colleges and alumni.

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