Pursuing Non-profit and Gov’t Careers – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Pursuing Non-profit and Gov’t Careers

For students interested in non-profit and government work, Spring Break 2009 included in-depth visits to three of the leading firms in those fields. In New York City, a group of career-minded students met up with Career Services’ Brandi Ferrara and Associate Professor Jo Beth Mertens for  Non-Profit and Government Day.

“At HWS, there are many students who are interested in financial analysis but don’t want to work on Wall Street,” explained Mertens, associate professor of economics. “This event was perfect for them and for all students who wanted to be exposed to the working world of non-profit and government work.”

Beginning with an exploration of careers in government, the group’s first stop was the New York County District Attorney’s Office. There, students were able to meet with Dan Boylan ’96, a Hobart alumnus and the assistant district attorney, as well as Jennifer Kushner ’92, a William Smith alumna and the information associate in their press office.

“The visit was a truly unique experience for the students,” explained Ferrara, senior associate director in career services. “Thanks to the availability of our alums, we were able to tour the office and ask the assistant D.A. questions about his profession in person. They were also able to see the P.R. face of a governmental office by meeting Ms. Kushner.”

Showing the intersection between government and non-profit work, the group’s next stop was the ACLU, a non-profit organization that concentrates on governmental and socio-political issues. There they spoke with Rachel Fishman ’90, William Smith alumna and deputy director of development. “Ms. Fishman offered a unique perspective during our trip,” explained Ferrara. “Her work highlighted the crucial role that fundraising, advocacy and management plays in non-profit organizations, regardless of their particular focus.”

Throughout the day, Mertens noted several pervasive lessons that students took in. “One key point that was reiterated to our students by these professionals was the importance of having strong writing and math skills,” Mertens said. “Also, students learned how crucial it is to be flexible while pursuing their career goals – something that all of the day’s speakers found in their career pursuits.”

Later in the day, the group visited AARP, making their way into the non-profit sector of the career world. There, they met Yvette Martinez, associate state director. “By talking with Ms. Martinez, the students on the trip were able to see how the efforts of one non-profit professional who manages the goings-on of a single state office can make a huge difference in the lives of an entire generation of people,” Ferrara explained. “That’s the impact of non-profit work, and that’s the career field that many of our students are pursuing.”

After showing HWS students the importance of careers in non-profit work and in government firsthand, Mertens reflected on the recent trip, saying that, “The trip was beneficial to all of the students who attended: first-years were able to begin thinking about their careers early while sophomores, juniors and seniors found a dose of reality about the long hours and many demands of a career in non-profit or governmental work.”

In the photo above are Gary Anthony ’10 and Daphne Etienne ’12, two attendees of the NYC experience.