Alumni Column ’99

With the second semester starting, a good deal of students will start to think about their summer activities. In my case, specifically try to make good on the assurances I gave my parents the previous semester that I was “working” on securing a summer job or internship. As I am sure is the case with most of you, my thoughts went from just securing a job to succeeding in a job.

I often sat in my various Core courses and wondered how that was ever going to benefit me outside of Colgate? How would my liberal arts education really look to prospective employers or future clients? Sure I knew Colgate was a great college and people were impressed when they saw “Colgate,” but how did that really translate into what I could bring to the table as a member of the “Real World”?

I believe almost all professions (educators, lawyers, businessmen, psychologists, doctors, communications/PR etc., etc.) are increasingly looking for a specific type of candidate – one that is not rigid in his or her thinking or learning, but rather one who has been given general tools to assist in their natural development and curiosity of challenging the norm and being challenged to think of new, different and better approaches of how to conduct one’s day.

Despite graduating fairly recently, I am shocked as to how much the world has changed since then. We are much more connected via technology, drive and common objectives visa vie our dependence and desire on foreign sources of labor, reduced costs, potential untapped markets, as well as geo-political issues that continue to dominate headlines and occupy a great deal of the world’s leaders and thinkers.

The world is getting smaller – something I am sure all of you have heard and experienced. If not, talk to family friends or alumni from just ten or more years ago and find out what their first reaction was to e-mail, faxes or even playing a game of checkers with someone across the world. I recently had a very powerful conversation with my grandparents and it was amazing to hear a firsthand account of some of the history they have lived through.

The problems that are facing the world today are more complex than ever before they are also covering a bigger swatch of not just Americans but all world citizens. This will continue to increase the need for nimble, coaltion-building, non-threatening thinkers and leaders. For this I think there are no better-suited students to lead and make a difference than you! I love coming back on campus and seeing Colgate students in action, from their classrooms to their houses to downtown, witnessing how Colgate students are able to navigate through the gauntlet of their everyday lives.

Sure some of you may say negotiating your studies, leisure time, friends and extracurricular activities can’t compare to the real world but I beg to differ. The topics may change (although you may be surprised as to the similarities when you leave Colgate), but your basic approach to problem-solving and coalition-building techniques will be used and repeated often. It will serve as your foundation to guide you in your decision-making abilities as you grow and mature.

With presidential politics and political punditry in full swing I find it interesting to sit back and see which candidates’ messages seem to resonate more than others. It is interesting to note that many of the candidates speak of change and building coalitions across parties, the world and even in some cases, with our enemies. With recent polling data, it seems the younger population has started to show support for the candidates with this approach. These future leaders of tomorrow understand the need for this type of open-minded and coalition problem-solving. Try to get past the words and really understand what each candidate is saying see if you can pick up these themes of “working across the aisle or ocean or alliances,” and see if you can relate this to your activities at Colgate.

As you start, work on, and complete the process of summer employment, I challenge you to carry forth the grand Colgate tradition of reaching across aisles, thinking outside the box and exploring different routes in making accomplishments.