For the seventh consecutive year, Hobart and William Smith students traveled with faculty to the nation’s capital to meet alumni, alumnae and parents while exploring careers in Washington, D.C. Guided by Professor of Political Science Iva Deutchman, Associate Professor of Political Science DeWayne Lucas and Assistant Director of Employer Development Miranda Warder, 22 students had the opportunity to hear alums give candid and personal perspectives on careers and life in the city.
“Every year, Day on the Hill gets better,” reflects Lucas who, along with Deutchman, created the highly sought after program in 2006 to show students firsthand how their degree can translate into a career. “This year was a phenomenal year in seeing what our alums are doing, hearing the advice they had to share, and getting a sense of the impact that their daily activities have on shaping the world around them.”
This year also marked the program’s highest application numbers, resulting in an extensive waiting list. Students from across class years and disciplines sought to attend the networking and informational trip.
Warder, who has helped organize the program for three years, is amazed and heartened by its growth. “It is rewarding to see alums who were on the trip as students get jobs and join the panels,” says Warder. “Speakers from five years ago are still participating in the program; however, now they are vice presidents and executives.”
In fact, all of the HWS graduates participating on this year’s Young Alum panel – a program favorite – were past attendees. “It’s a particular joy for me to see students we mentored years ago now reaching back and helping the next generation of students achieve their career dreams,” says Deutchman.
“Members of the HWS community continue to build each other up, to truly help people on their career paths,” remarks Warder. “The mission of Professors Lucas and Deutchman and the Colleges is taking place. We genuinely care about what students want to do and we are doing what we can to make that happen – seeing these students thrive really drives that home.”
Panels covering topics such as the military, foreign policy and think tanks challenged students to think beyond typical career paths, and others comprising campaigns and the media provided an in-depth and revealing perspective.
Lucas noted that there were consistent themes throughout both days. “Speakers stressed the value of perseverance and hard work, the importance of writing and critical thinking, the utility of the HWS experience to succeeding in the real world, and the significant role of both individual and community efforts – including HWS – to that success,” says Lucas.
Olivia Lowenberg ’15, a political science and American studies double major, found the site visits particularly illuminating. This year’s locations included tours of the Heritage Foundation, the Center for American Progress, Ogilvy Public Relations, the Washington Post, and both the Democratic and Republican National Committees. “It was so helpful to see firsthand where our alumni and alumnae work, and to hear about what they do on a day-to-day basis,” says Lowenberg. “This allowed me to think more deeply about the kind of work environment I would enjoy and the kinds of projects I might like to work on in my future career.”
For economics major Cameron Benoit ’16, the trip ignited a passion previously undiscovered. “This sparked an interest in D.C. that I hadn’t felt before,” he explains. “As a first-year student, this trip allowed me to see how I can best prepare myself for a future career in the capital.”
Deutchman was particularly impressed with the quality of engagement on the part of students. “Throughout the trip, the students really connected with alums, generating intelligent and meaningful discussion – all while getting a full picture of life in the capital,” she says.
A traditional highlight of the event is a reception for students and local alums. This year, the reception featured a discussion about the 2012 election with Deutchman, Lucas and Professor Emeritus of Political Science Joseph DiGangi. The panel was moderated by Karin Richards Moore ’89, vice president and co-general counsel at Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America.
Provost and Dean of Faculty Titi Ufomata attended the first day’s session of panel discussions and the reception. “I wanted to see firsthand what all the buzz is about,” says Ufomata. “I was particularly impressed by the dedication of our faculty in making this event happen every year and in the active collaboration with alums that is at the heart of this program. This community-based networking is invaluable.”
Fatima Sarassoro ’15 encapsulated the power of the experience. “This program is filled with opportunities; it’s up the students to reach out and grab them.”