Twenty-five members of the Alumni Council of Advisors visited Suffield to participate in a career mentoring session with the Class of 2018 on April 28. An initiative of the college counseling program, students and alumni were divided into small groups to discuss how a college or major can lead to a professional career. A central concept Suffield’s rising seniors learned is that the college or college major they select may not always determine where they might end up professionally.
A graduate of St. Lawrence University Peter Snedeker ’02 majored in Economics. From 2006 to 2014 Peter worked as an analyst, then associate, and finally vice president of Morgan Stanley. Peter noted to a group of nine students Peter that, “When I was younger I thought I needed to settle for being a financial banker to get where I needed to be. While thinking about college I had the same mindset. But college may not be the solution to all your problems like you think it might be.” When the financial crisis hit in 2008 Peter recognized it was time for a change. “I thought working at Morgan Stanley meant more than it actually did,” he admitted. “Be careful about latching onto a brand for status.” In 2014 Peter joined a small hedge found (Abdiel Capital) initially as the director of operations and now as chief operating officer. Preferring to work with a growing business and with more individual control, Peter advised that great business is about “great leadership, great culture, and profit.”
Since graduating from University of Virginia as an English major Tom Casey ’09 has held positions in software and technology as an account executive for Bullhorn Inc., in real estate as an analyst for Waldorf Capital Management, and also in real estate as a private equity fund analyst for Admiral Capital Group. “Sometimes you think you know what you want to do, but that can change and shift,” he said. “The college you choose is a major decision, but it is not the most important decision of your life. It’s ok to not know exactly what you want to do yet.” As an English major now in finance he offered valuable advice: “Learning to communicate is a critical part of education and is extremely applicable to my role at work. Utilize what you enjoy and what you’re good at. The rest will fall into place.”
“Liberal arts teaches you how to think,” said Laura Monty ’08 a graduate of Amherst College who previously worked as a fixed income trader for HIMCO.“No matter what happens in your career you can always fall back on thinking and communication. Don’t limit yourself to believing you have to follow only one direction. If you major in English you can still work for Goldman Sachs. No matter what field you go into communication skills are really important.”
A public health major with a minor in Chinese from Johns Hopkins University, Sydney Greenberg ’07 took some time off after college to recharge her batteries and reflect. Later a high school math teacher with Teach for America, Sydney will graduate this year from medical school to specialize in internal medicine. “I wanted to learn if teaching was the right career for me. While very rewarding, it confirmed for me I wanted to go into science.” Acknowledging the benefits of a good education Sydney commented, “Suffield was the thing that set me up for success. I give it more credit than college. You learn here quickly how to recognize your strengths and weaknesses, and that will take you a long way. Suffield prepares you how to learn without guidance and this is very valuable in college. Also remember that your experiences outside of school will make you a more interesting person, better during interviews, and fuel your passions. Medical school was the right choice for me because it provided options. Be happy about what you’re going to spend a lot of time on.”
As rising seniors prepare for the college application process next year they are heavily supported by their college counselors and alumni mentors. While it is an extremely important decision in their adolescent lives, the career mentoring sessions allowed an opportunity to relieve some stress and answer some unanswered questions about their future. It was made very clear that communication is a key to success and that there is more than one way to accomplish goals and many paths to success.