With opportunities to mingle with professionals from a large network of alums and friends of the Colleges while learning about the inner workings of life in our nation’s capitol, “Day on the Hill” is the premier event for HWS students interested in politics and policy.
“The best part about the program was how approachable all of the alums were,” says Kelsey Bair ’11. “From the President of the HWS Club of D.C. to the 2009 graduates, everyone was excited to meet with us and help us out. On campus you might hear about what a strong alumni network HWS has, but it isn’t until you take the initiative and get involved with a program like this that you really see the strength of this network.”
During this year’s Day on the Hill, held Jan. 7 and 8, Associate Professor of Political Science DeWayne Lucas, Professor of Political Science Iva Deutchman, and Brandi Ferrara, interim director of the Salisbury Center for Career Services, guided 18 students around Washington D.C., where they interacted with politicians and alums who work on the Hill, discovering what it takes to get a job in the nation’s capitol and what the day-to-day routine of D.C. life is really like.
There were alum speakers such as the Honorable Ludwig Gaines ’88; a panel of young alums who work for legislators, advocacy groups and IT firms; and a speech by Professor Emeritus of Political Science Joseph DiGangi, who, with Professor of Economics Patrick McGuire, started the off-campus study program in Washington D.C. In addition, Catherine “Kiki” McLean, Partner and Global Head of Public Affairs for the Porter Novelli agency, spoke to the group. McLean was a senior adviser to Hillary Clinton’s Presidential campaign and an on-air surrogate for the “Obama for America” campaign; she also served as press secretary for Vice President Al Gore.
Panel discussions during the day included alums like Hadley Sosnoff ’06, who works as a legislative assistant for Rep. Walt Minnick (D-ID), and Mike Reed ’06, who is a research analyst for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, showing students such as Brian Horn ’12 the broad range of experiences D.C. has to offer.
“It was interesting to hear firsthand what it’s like to work in D.C. and the challenges of finding a job,” Horn says. “I definitely learned that it is very important to network with people in order to gain a job or internship.”
Sarah Tanzer ’13 says that the networking opportunities were unbelievable. “Alums were so excited to speak with current students. They were ready to share some great tips about academics at Hobart and William Smith and careers in D.C.”
On Thursday night, with the aid of the Hobart and William Smith Club of Washington, D.C., students had a unique opportunity to network with alums at a special reception and learn about internship and job opportunities.
“The alum reception was a great chance for students to meet with alum participants they saw speak during the day,” Deutchman says. “I don’t know if our alums know how different they are from alums at other schools. They are participating, not just going through the ropes. This is really special.”
Students gathered with alums at the home of Karin Moore ’89, assistant general counsel for the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America, and received a tour of the White House with Secret Service agent Stuart Hillenbrand ’04, who is assigned to protect President Barack Obama. Students also toured the Capitol, the Democratic and Republican National Headquarters, lobbying organizations, and political think tanks, such as the Heritage Foundation and the Center for American Progress.
“The trip was well planned with great speakers, events and alums who were really interested in telling us about their professions and experiences,” says Jarrid Blades ’12. “I was able to have lunch with President Gearan, alums and classmates. We talked in a comfortable setting about our experiences at HWS, what Washington D.C. has to offer and our plans for the future.”
Jillian Oberfield ’01, a Legislative Assistant to Congressman Edward J. Markey (D-MA), who spoke during Thursday’s events, says that while at HWS, she “was enriched through broad exposure to people, classes and service. Coming from Hobart and William Smith had an impact on the choice of my career, and it is nice to be able to give back to the Colleges however I am able. It’s great to have the opportunity to discuss working in politics.”
There will be a meeting at the end of January for this year’s student participants to gather, reminisce, discuss their favorite parts and propose new ideas for next year’s trip.