Suffield’s College Counseling and Alumni & Development Offices hosted the sixth college-to-career virtual discussion of the year on February 9. The program invites alums to speak with interested students about their careers, college major choices, and experiences at Suffield. As part of the junior-year Leadership Program curriculum, the goal is to expose current students to life beyond Suffield and provide guidance from alumni professionals working in various fields.
Mariam Ibrahim ’13 graduated from Suffield in 2013 and Princeton University in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical and aerospace engineering. At Princeton she was Food Chair of her eating club, Editor-in-Chief of Princeton’s on-campus fashion magazine, and a tour guide (just like at Suffield). She also took language and creative writing classes, studied abroad in Vienna, and worked abroad in Paris. After Princeton she moved to New York City where she worked for IBM as a data scientist for four years, leading work related to IBM’s product strategy and marketing of hardware and cloud-based technologies. She left IBM in 2021 as a Senior Data Scientist for graduate school; she is currently pursuing her M.B.A. and master’s in mechanical engineering with a focus on product design and development from MIT as part of an integrated two-year dual-degree program.
Mariam began her talk by answering a question about how Suffield prepared her for college. She noted that navigating a campus, managing a busy schedule, and creating good study habits were three big things she felt comfortable with as soon as she began her freshman year at Princeton, which was a huge help. She also spoke about the college application process and how it’s sometimes just a luck-of-the-draw situation as to where you’ll be accepted. She added, “There’s definitely an element of fit, and that’s where I do think visiting schools is really important. I visited Princeton and I was just like, ‘I can see myself here.’” One of the challenges in her transition to college was in the classroom itself. She said, “The way that I had to think about learning was really different... I found that my old ways of thinking weren’t working.” In terms of advice for finding her way from Suffield to a college engineering program as a woman—where she admitted she had no female STEM teachers—Mariam advised, “Seek out people who are going to support you. Be honest with yourself... And when you have the opportunity to be in an environment that does have people who look like you [for Mariam, a female community], take it.”
Juniors preparing for the college application process are heavily supported by Suffield’s college counselors and alumni mentors. While their college choice is an important decision in their lives, the mentoring sessions provide insight into many unanswered questions. It is made very clear that communication is a key to success and there is more than one way to accomplish a rewarding future.