Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Why a Double Major is Worth It

At any Saint Mike's admissions event, they will tell you that a double major is entirely doable - and it is! You may want to think twice (or even three times) about some combinations, but I definitely recommend considering it as the College's academic requirementst really make it an option. The planning is the most complicated part, and there's plenty of people who can help with that. At least in my experience, my two majors complement each other very well, and I feel like I learn more in each discipline because of what I have learned in the other.

I declared an Economics minor last semester; I officially became an International Relations and Economics double major in September. When I started at Saint Mike's, I knew what type of classes I wanted to take but had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do afterwards. I'm still not entirely sure, but supplementing International Relations with Economics (and vice versa) is getting me closer, even if only because I periodically learn what I do not want to spend my life doing.

Being a double major will mean that your class schedule is more defined, as the number of required courses goes up. But course requirements can overlap, especially in my case as International Relations includes several departments outside political science. Topics will be repeated, but from different perspectives, which really helps define your interests. This intersection also means concepts are covered more in depth, which has made me much more interested in the material. That really enriches the learning experience - if you like that sort of thing, and I do!

Really, the benefits of being a double major come down to the classes you take, and the professors. The two disciplines can stay as separate or as interconnected as you want; likewise, what you discuss with professors can be strictly class-based or can pull in what you've learned from other subjects. Personally, I feel like I have made much better connections with my professors this semester - that may be a natural consequence of having spent more time on campus, but at least part of it is because I am more informed about what I'm studying, and have more specific interests this time around.

If you are willing to push yourself for that extra experience, and there is another subject calling to you, maybe it's time to have a conversation with a professor or two.

Good luck with exams; December break is almost here!


Picture credit:

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

How, Exactly, Does One Network?

This past Friday I had the amazing experience of going to the College's Career Symposium. Although we host one every year, this was the first time I attended. Read on to learn what the Symposium is, what I got out of it, and why you should go next time!

Upon arriving at the keynote address, everyone receives a program with panel descriptions and alumni bios.

What is it?
The Career Symposium is an amazing event that essentially brings our alumni network together with current students in order to educate them on directions a major can take them, what a particular career entails, and learn how to network with a wonderful group of people. 

How does it work?
Registration is in advance; dress is business attire. There is a keynote speaker - this year's, Chris Eldridge '12, spoke about his personal career path and the basics of networking a crowd. Following the keynote, there are a variety of panels hosted by alumni for two hours - each panel is an hour long, so I had the opportunity to attend two of them. After that, there is a networking reception, which places all the alumni and current students in attendance in the same room. For alumni, it looked like a spontaneous reunion; for current students, this is the opportunity to really talk to panelists you want to know more about after hearing them speak, or seek out others whose careers you're curious about. 

Do I have to be a senior business major?
Absolutely not! Although the majority of students seemed to be business majors, the panel variety makes the event welcoming to a wide spectrum of interests. Although this is a networking event, networking is not just limited to the job search. Internships, connections for future employment, career-specific advice - all of these apply to a Purple Knight at any point in his or her college career. As you can see from the panel selection, there is a wide range of choice. Also, a panel's title does not mean that every panelist has the correlating major. If you were wondering, I went to the Government and Business panels - and every Business panelist had a different major.

To be honest, when I walked into the keynote speech, I was extremely nervous. Speaking with new people is not my strong suit; neither is answering the loaded question of "What do you want to do?". But even if speaking with people made me nervous, the environment as a whole made me more comfortable to leave my comfort zone, so to speak. Regardless of a shared major or the lack thereof, every person was chosen for the symposium because of the many areas they could offer advice in; there was no "wrong" person to speak with. Everyone truly was there to help you; if they weren't, they would not have come to the symposium in the first place. 

What I Learned:
My biggest takeaway from this event? Your career path is a process, not a single destination. Staying in the same job your entire career can be perfect for some people, but if it's not, that does not mean you are a failure; you just haven't found the optimal combination of your interests yet. I also learned about networking, and about myself in general - the more people I spoke with, the more specific my list of key "about-me" points became.

Networking can be extremely daunting, but remember - conversation is easiest with people you have something in common with. Don't go for the biggest name if you are not at all interested in what he or she does; several "less important" (all connections are important, for what they have to offer and as people), but more genuine contacts will be much more interesting and beneficial.

In Sum:
I would wholeheartedly recommend every Saint Mike's student attend the Symposium. Even if there isn't a panel that is specifically your field of study, a panelist or two may be. Likewise, if you're not in the job market just yet, the experience itself can still be extremely rewarding. I walked out of the reception feeling better about myself, and more confident about what I have to offer. And that's what really matters, isn't it?


Questions about the panels I went to, people I spoke with, or any other part of the Symposium and the SMC life? Comment below, or shoot me an email!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Purple, Gold, and Green

As you know, Saint Mike's colors are purple and gold. But did you also know how green our campus is? I'm not just talking trees - and technically those are red and gold right now - but also in terms of energy consumption and environmental consciousness. 

A few things you might be interested to know about:

1. Geothermal Energy
As a Phonathon student caller, I mention this a lot when people ask what we're doing to stay up-to-date with energy consumption (which comes up more than you might think). Our two newest buildings on campus, the Dion Student Center and Residence Hall IV (still waiting on a name), both use geothermal energy, which is much more efficient in terms of our heating and cooling systems.

2. Waste Not, Want Not
Saint Mike's is very conscious of our consumption patterns. We have recycling bins in all the buildings, which is fairly standard, and we have composted in Alliot for quite awhile. But because of the new Vermont law, we can now be proud to say that all of our campus is composting! Additionally, 100% of our copy paper (don't forget SMC students have free printing!) comes from recycled paper.

3. No Bottled Water 
Thanks to a student-led campaign in 2012, our campus is bottled-water free - we do not sell it, and bottle-filling stations all over campus make carrying your own bottle (Nalgenes and Camelbaks are currently on trend) ridiculously simple.

Rather than a picture of a waterbottle, this is my favorite tree on campus.
Founders Society may be a way for students to get involved with alumni and prospective students, but the meetings also go a long way in educating us about various parts of campus, from the Career Symposium to Athletics, to our Permaculture Farm - which I visited for the first time last week.

Before last week, I knew of the permaculture site but had never been there; I didn't even know where exactly it was on campus. I was very surprised to learn we have a fully functioning small farm on campus, complete with a young orchard. Although there is a program coordinator for the farm (who spoke with us at our meeting), the majority of the work put into our gardening - we also have an organic garden - comes from students. These are usually volunteers, but a good amount of hours are also put in by different classes and groups as well. 

As someone not involved in the farm, my favorite perk is our farmstand, held weekly outside Alliot. Although it just ended for the season, during the growing season expect to see a wide variety of flowers, tomatoes, leafy greens, and other produce that are much fresher than in a grocery store. If you're interested in learning more about the permaculture site, contact Kristyn Achilich, the program coordinator. 

There's nothing there right now - but this is where the farmstand is when it's open!
There are many more aspects of campus that promote sustainability and student involvement in the environment - these are just a few. Ask around, and I'm sure anyone could easily give you a few more ideas!

This isn't SMC - but a plane window view of Vermont is always worth sharing.