Students should consider wider array of careers

To the Editor:

We read with concern the article in the February 23rd issue of the Record, “Navigating the Straits of the Post-Graduate Job Market.” For the past three years, we have taught a Winter Study focused on life after Williams (SPEC 039 “Composing a Life: Finding Success and Balance in Life after Williams”). Each year we have been intrigued by the extent to which the “I-banking/management consulting track” apparently has set a rather universal standard or “prize” for an increasing number of Williams students. Even students whose interests seem quite remote to these careers often become swept up in the “sweepstakes” for these coveted positions. Other students, who have decided to defy the trend, have introduced themselves to us with statements like: “I don’t fit the Williams mold. I know I don’t want to be an I-banker or a management consultant.” This was not the case when we were at Williams in the early ’70s, and with the remarkable growth in the diversity of students at Williams, it surprises us that such a limited perspective on career opportunities would dictate the plans of so many Williams students today.

We urge our students in the class, and we encourage students at large, to examine thoroughly their interests, their passions and their motivations for choosing the career opportunities they pursue. Indeed, for some students, I-banking and management consulting are fitting choices, but for many others it seems simply a matter of “joining the bandwagon.” For the uncommitted or undecided, convenience (i.e. these are the only companies that recruit on campus) or conformity is hardly a worthy rationale for choosing a career.

How can students initiate a broader exploration of career paths? We think the alumni of Williams College are a tremendous resource to mine. For example, the OCC has invited alumni back to participate in panel discussions, such as “Careers in Science,” “Careers in the Public Sector” and “Make a Difference: Help Others” (about careers in social service). Or, you can visit the Williams Alumni Career Website/Career Services Network, established by the Office of Alumni Relations (http://eph.org ; Username = eph; Password = log). At this site, over 6,000 alumni can be accessed, all of whom have volunteered to be “career advisors” to Williams people – i.e. they have offered to communicate with anyone who wishes to discover more about their jobs and career fields. Simply scrolling through the career fields listed presents an amazing array of careers. In fact, it is quite exciting to explore the many varied paths Williams alumni have followed or created after graduation.

If your passions and interests lead you naturally to I-banking or management consulting, then go for it. However, if you are pursuing this track solely because that’s what’s here or that’s what everybody else is doing, why not access alumni and perhaps broaden your perspective on the range of opportunities available to Williams graduates?

Good luck to all!

Michele Moeller Chandler ’73,

WSP instructor

Chip Chandler ’72,

Director, McKinsey & Co., Inc.

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