Preparing for Life Beyond Colgate

For some Colgate students, summer is a time of relaxation at the beach, lake or other vacation destination. For others, it is a return home to demeaning jobs that remind students why they are earning a college degree. For students who take advantage of the many opportunities offered through Career Services, it can be a chance to have a unique and exciting work and learning experience.

Junior Veronika Totos, for example, spent this past summer in the Zhongguancun area of Beijing, China.

“[I] was focusing on the connection between the spatial and social structures of the area, particularly on architectural styles, land-use specialization along with average age, education levels and migration of the population,” she said.

“The project was a really significant learning experience for me,” she added.

“I could get a glimpse into both interdisciplinary research and urban planning policies in a society under transformation.”

Totos also emphasized the value of having the opportunity to study the subject first-hand.

“Working in Beijing for over a month, gathering first-hand data through interviews, photographs, maps and visiting rare collections of Beijing libraries is not comparable to doing research from a library desk,” she said. “This way I could gain valuable first-hand experience with research beyond the scope of a normal class project.”

Totos’ experience was made possible by the Arthur Watson Jr. ’76 Endowed Fund for Career Planning.

The fund is a permanent endowment fund created to provide financial assistance for Colgate students to aid them in their search for career direction. Other beneficiaries of the fund last summer included senior Derek Johnson, who received funding to participate in an internship with the Chicago Council for Foreign Relations, senior Elizabeth Harbison, who participated in a summer internship for the Shelter and Housing Advocacy Reform Project, and senior Emily Gravett, who attended the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference.

The Arthur Watson Fund is not the only such fund available for Colgate students who wish to pursue summer learning experiences. The Aaron Jacobs ’96 Endowed Fund is also available to provide support for Colgate students who wish to pursue internships in finance or business and the Jim Manzi Endowed Fellowship Program provides financial assistance to Colgate students who agree to perform community service in the Boston area during the summer.

While it may seem a bit early to begin making plans for next summer, that is actually not the case. Deadlines for fellowships are fast approaching, and students should begin networking and applying for internships that they may be interested in for next summer.

Director of Career Services Barbara Moore encouraged students to look into the fellowships.

“I’ve had many students who participated [in the Manzi fellowship] tell me it was their most defining Colgate experience,” Moore said.

She also stressed that Career Services can help Colgate students find opportunities in virtually any area.

In the next couple weeks Career Services will begin a number of programs directed at helping students find something to do in the summer. These include the “Summer Learning Experiences Program” as well as information sessions to help juniors going abroad next semester find employment for the summer.

They will also begin their internshiprecruiting program, in which Colgate students get a chance to meet with representative alumni from a variety of fields and get their foot in the door regarding many different summer internship opportunities.

Of course, Career Services does much more than just help students find summer internships during their time at Colgate. Moore explained that this is just one aspect of what the employees like to see as a four-year plan for students.

“In the first year, students experience life skills and get to know themselves and what skills they have that they would like to capitalize on,” Moore said. “In their second year, students should explore further, and start networking as well as developing a resume. In their junior and senior years, students should really start to focus on what they want to do, and find out if it’s a good fit for them. Then hopefully senior year is just execution.”

Moore gave examples of some of the ongoing programs that help students with their career exploration.

“There’s the ‘Doing Well by Doing Good’ series, which exposes students to opportunities in the non-profit sector,” she said, “And there’s the ‘Food for Thought’ series, which provides an opportunity for students to make non-traditional career connections.”

There are also ongoing networking programs and alumni visits that help students make connections.

Moore also emphasized that the Career Services department doesn’t operate in a vacuum.

“We partner with other departments to help bring in speakers and alumni to get as much exposure of different career opportunities as possible,” Moore said.

Finally, Moore pointed out that Career Services isn’t there just to find opportunities for students, but to help students learn to find opportunities for themselves.

“It’s a cyclical process,” she said. “Students need to learn to know themselves, reinvent themselves and translate their skills. It’s an ongoing process.”