Alumna Spotlight: Sam Williams ’13

We always love hearing from our Colgate alumnae. Whether it’s catching up at a networking reception or posting on the blog, all of us back at Colgate want to know what our alums are doing! This alumna spotlight features Ms. Sam Williams. As a successful professional woman out in the PR industry, she has come back to CWiB with her words of wisdom (which make me smile)!

As my wise friend Lisa Lee ’12 once said (and wrote in a discussion on Colgate’s LinkedIn group), “Internships are the new entry-level for those in the class of 2014- seize rather than scoff, and you will see how far these opportunities/relationships will take you.”

Throughout my glorious years at Colgate, I didn’t actually put much thought into my life after college. I just kind of assumed that things would fall into place and I’d end up doing something fun and glamorous with my life. My c’est la vie attitude wasn’t really in line with the way my peers were approaching graduation, but it wasn’t like I didn’t have dreams, I just didn’t know what those dreams were, and I certainly didn’t know how to start to achieve them. This isn’t a story of a slacker getting her big break by a stroke of luck, it’s more like the story of a clueless girl slowly putting the pieces together to finally have a bigger-picture view on where she was headed in life.

To say that an internship was my major post-grad saving grace would be an understatement. I crashed into the “real world” with no plans and no plans to make a plan. When I returned to my native land, the San Francisco Bay Area, a Colgate alum (who is a friend, sorority sister, former teammate, etc.) contacted me out of the blue, mentioning that her company was looking for an intern. Having absolutely no experience in Public Relations, the idea of applying for an internship at a PR agency was intimidating to say the least. I politely said “no thanks” and continued working at the job I found at the beginning of summer, thinking that I would somehow manage to land the job of my dreams. By August, my first post-grad summer was drawing to a close but I wasn’t actually any closer to figuring out anything that had to do with my future. The panic was setting in and the light at the end of the tunnel was starting to dim.

Months after my friend reached out to me with an internship prospect, I realized that should have remembered the old adage about not knowing until you try. I contacted her and by the following morning, my resume had been submitted and I had an interview scheduled. I got the internship and worked really hard to learn everything I could about the industry, my role, and the work that I was doing.

Six months later, I’ve completed the internship and have accepted a full-time position at the company where I was interning, Current Lifestyle Marketing. This path is one that I had never imagined for myself—public relations in San Francisco??—but I’m thrilled to be at this exciting point in my life, starting a career in an industry that I (have grown to) love! Getting here wasn’t easy by any means, but it definitely could have been a lot more difficult, given the (f)unemployed place I was in at graduation.

To go back to the idea of post-graduate internships, relationships, and their value, I definitely wouldn’t have landed where I did (aka gainfully employed) without my internship. What was the catalyst in getting that internship, you might ask? Some genuine relationships! I never set out on a networking mission, but I did have a friend who was willing to extend herself to help me get my foot in the door. Sometimes it isn’t all about networking events and exchanging business cards (though that all has value too!); realize that your friends can be amazing professional contacts, too.

In my world, the turning point came when I acknowledged that the times are changing and internships are another layer to the post-graduate “norm” now. It’s easy to be discouraged when you’re hustlin’ in the job market as it is—the “entry level” jobs want you to have 1-2 years of experience, but you can’t get experience without landing the job, but you won’t land the job without experience—see how that works? The life of an intern is (sometimes/often/usually) far from glamorous, but just as your education is one step toward the rest of your life, a truly meaningful internship can also be another building block in that life. There will never be a right or wrong path to take after graduation, but it’s good to be aware of all the options that are out there!

I still have a ton to learn about life, love, and the pursuit of happiness as they say, but so far, the life lessons that I have learned have served me well. At the (VERY HIGH) risk of sounding like an overly zen “everything happens for a reason” girl, my parting words are this: be good to the people around you and seriously consider any and all opportunities that come your way. If I hadn’t had my mini-epiphany and gone crawling back to my friend about the internship she had mentioned, I might still be sobbing (intentional hyperbole; I’m many things but I’m no cry baby) and jobless. Now go forth, and make those cool, fun, unpredictable lives happen!

–Sam Williams ‘13

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Chegg’s Career Connection Blog!

This great resource is brought to us by a recent Colgate alumna and former CEO of CWiB, Carly Keller. Take a few minutes to browse through Chegg’s Career Connection blog – make it one of your bookmarks for easy access! The blog is full of relevant tips and tricks, news pieces, and great internship and job opportunities. The “Internship Roundup” has been featuring available internships across the country in different business areas. Keep checking the Chegg blog for more cool posts!ImageChegg has also partnered with Internships.com to provide a search engine for internships right on Chegg’s site. It’s a great place to start out or to continue your search for internships!

The Path of “Wine-o” at Heart

CWiB is extremely lucky to have a dedicated and passionate alumnae network; we always love to hear about the amazing things they are pursuing and accomplishing. This week, Allie Rahill ’13 writes to us from New York City! Continue reading to learn more about  her current role at HP Selections and how she came to be a “Wine-o”!

Hi girls! For those of you that don’t know me, my name is Allison Rahill and I graduated with the class of 2013, only a few short months ago. My time at Colgate was marked by the Gamma Phi Beta sorority, working for the Creative Writing Initiative at Hamilton Central School and acting as the blog director for CWiB. These days I work for a wine import and distribution company called HP Selections as a Sales Assistant. Looking back to the days of the job hunt and earlier, there are two specific experiences that helped me to land this amazing job. In addition, the advice and knowledge I received from the alumnae during my senior year provided the necessary skills that actually got me a job! I swear… it’s true! (Hint: CWiB LinkedIn Session)

During my junior spring I studied abroad in Buenos Aires where I spent time studying Malbec wine, which is the most popular red grape varietal in Argentina. With the help of a creative writing professor on my program, I created my own independent study, which compared the representations of wine throughout Argentine history with current ones via literary contexts. I read 19th century Argentine poetry that mused about wine, interviewed vineyard owners in Mendoza, spoke with restaurant owners in Buenos Aires and read wine reviews. My study culminated in a written essay that detailed how wine, and specifically the Malbec grape, was a major part of Argentine immigration, the growth of its current economy and how it unites people in social settings. This experience solidified my desire to work in the Food and Wine Industry after graduation. I absolutely love to cook and was interested in food and wine pairing as well as the marketing and business techniques that companies use to get us to consume their product.

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One of first tasting events ever! Taken at Trapiche Winery in Mendoza, Argentina.

The second factor was a combination of luck and perseverance. Colgate invited my current boss (also a Colgate alumnus) to come speak about his experiences as an entrepreneur in the wine industry at the Senior Champagne Brunch. When I received the invitation, I reached out to him on Linked In and asked to speak with him personally. From our first conversation, I discovered that we shared a mutual passion for meeting people, tasting wine and travel. For the past 15 years he has developed relationships and a reputation in New York, Chicago, Florida, Bordeaux, Burgundy and Tuscany that led him to be the President of HP Selections today.

We met a few weeks prior to graduation where he advised me to stay in touch over the summer, which I did. In August, he offered to start me in the sales department and spend time shadowing him in order to learn the business of wine. Little did I know that I would also end up assisting the Director of Operations with marketing materials and developing new clients for our database.

For the past few months, my major responsibilities have included researching the wines we carry in order to produce marketing materials for our consumers, and assisting with the development of our website, which feature our wines for purchase. Our company is a small start-up and therefore I help out with whatever needs to be done from running the occasional errand to closing sales deals with wine buyers.

I know for all of those currently on the “job hunt” that it can be a daunting and thankless process. However, I cannot stress enough how important networking was during my senior year. Even though the e-mail I sent to my current boss was one I never thought I’d hear back from, I still reached out. He loves to tell the story about receiving that e-mail to people in our company and being reminded of the tenacity and ambition that so many Colgate students are known for.

In summary, the transition to the “real world” and to working full-time was not the nightmare I expected, and I elieve this is true because I’m passionate about this industry. I’ve started to take wine classes one night a week that explores winemaking techniques, grape varietals, soil structures and the science behind tasting and comparing wines. I’ve learned to appreciate the aromas and flavors much more with every sip. I’m gaining the confidence to speak up in client meetings regarding the wines we offer. Finally as a new New Yorker, my job introduces me to wine bars and restaurants all over the city that I wouldn’t have tried otherwise. It’s not just about logging the “9-5” hours and getting a paycheck that make up this job, but it’s also about the moments and experiences that are created by working in and learning about an industry which was mostly foreign to me three months ago.

I still have A LOT to learn and am constantly reminded of my youth and inexperience on a regular basis. Although graduating college is a wonderful achievement, I’ve found myself back at the bottom of the totem pole, which has been difficult and refreshing at the same time. Here is what I do know and what my job search came down to: I LOVE wine, and I LOVE food; I wanted to work with those things. At 22, I wasn’t prepared to sacrifice two absolute passions for just another mediocre opportunity. Down the line, I’m not totally sure if I want to be a wine salesperson, a sommelier or if I want to own a vineyard in Argentina. But first I have to be the grunt, the errand queen, I need to make mistakes (which happen frequently) and baby-step it all the way until I find out.

-Allie Rahill ’13

Colgate Finance Club’s Annual NYC Immersion Trip: Apply by 11/1!

You still have time to apply for the Finance Club’s Annual NYC Immersion Trip!

This trip is a 2-day educational trip to give students interested in finance a better day-to-day understanding of career in finance. This year the trip is scheduled from the evening of Thursday November to the afternoon of Saturday the 16th.

On Friday participants will be hosted by Colgate alumni at four different financial institutions, which in the past have include the NYSE, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and many others. These visits will include tours and Q&A sessions with select alumni and will provide students with a great amount of information and networking contacts.

If you would like to know more about the event, please do not hesitate to email financeclub@colgate.edu!

Apply on naviGATE by tomorrow night!

2014 IRTS Summer Fellowship

Looking for an internship in digital media?

Check out the IRTS’ (International Radio and Television Society Foundation) summer fellowship in New York City.  As it is often referred to as “media boot camp”, the paid fellowship includes: practical experience and career-planning advice, along with countless opportunities to network with industry professionals. The ten-week program starts off with a week of extensive orientation to broadcasting, cable, advertising, and interactive media. The rest of the fellowship will be spent interning at a fantastic New York-based media corporation!

Our alumna Markie Cohen (2013) went through the program this past summer and had a fantastic experience. She says: “you’ll meet countless professionals, tour amazing companies, and make some of your best friends. I interned at Disney through the program, lived in the West Village, and had the perfect transition into real life”. Applications for this upcoming summer’s program are due October 29th. Check out naviGATE to apply to this unique opportunity if you’re considering pursuing a career in digital media! If you have any questions, our great alumna, Markie is more than willing to discuss – you can contact her at mdcohen@colgate.edu.

The Inside Scoop to Business School with Charlotte Burkly, ’06

This past Tuesday, CWIB met Charlotte Burkly, a ‘06 alumna via Skype in order to learn about business school, the application process and the benefits of earning an MBA. Charlotte currently works in the admissions office at the Columbia Business School in New York City.

Charlotte opened by revealing the main reason people apply to business school is to change jobs. Charlotte told us that the average applicant has between three and seven years of work experience as well. With this information however, she encouraged us to take the Graduate Management Admission Test or GMAT as soon as possible, while our college test-taking skills are still sharp. The GMAT is required for all business schools and tests applicants on a range of quantitative, verbal and integrated reasoning skills.

Charlotte also offered the breakdown of classes during the two-year business program. She explained how the first year is focused on introductory courses specializing in marketing, finance, accounting or ethics, which all students must pass. The second year is more flexible, allowing students to choose their own classes according to their business experience and future career goals.

Finally, Charlotte spoke about the benefits of earning an MBA degree. From securing internships, to broadening your client and networking base to supplementing your knowledge of general business practices, business schools around the country are helping workers achieve their career goals.

ISP Lecture Reflection: Julie Kelly ’04

On Wednesday night, Julie Kelly generously donated her time and advice to an eager group of Colgate students. Both at the dinner and lecture itself, Kelly shed light on everything from getting your first job to maintaining and growing investments for retirement. As others have mentioned, she made everything simple enough to understand, even for those of us who didn’t know what IRA stood for. It was refreshing to listen to a lecturer who knew her audience, and moved at a comfortable pace. On so many occasions, career advice can be well-meaning but not catered to a given audience. I’d like to thank her for taking time out of her enormously busy schedule to give back to Colgate and let us soak up some of her vast financial and career knowledge.