CMC Alums Talk Jobs in Science

As 5C students move into their final years of study in Claremont, the looming reality of figuring out post-college plans often occupies a gray space in students’ minds. This uncertainty was true for government and legal studies major Bennett Jones CM ’14 as she moved into the November of her senior year. Ultimately, however, her work experience translated into an unexpected career as a Health Analyst. Rather than feeling confined by one’s major or a certain direction, Jones touched on how this uncertainty is perfectly acceptable, and Claremont McKenna College’s “Careers In Science” panel aimed to show just that.  

In a segment of Claremont McKenna College’s “Careers In…” speakers series, scientific employment opportunities were discussed in a panel held in the College’s Freeburg Forum Dec. 1. The series consists of several different panels featuring alumni who speak about their careers and how they got to where they are in their field.

Though CMC has hosted events in the Athenaeum where one or two alums speak about a more focused career path, this is the first year they have used the “Careers In” branding and also the first time such events have been formalized. Previous panels this semester included “Careers in Writing” on Sept. 22, “Careers in Marketing” on Oct. 6, and “Careers in Entertainment” on Nov. 10.

The Career Services Center and Alumni Association of CMC deliberately chose to host discussions about fields for which they viewed as in need of more dialogue and guidance for students. 

first goal is that we wanted to broaden the offerings, so we tried to stay away
from finance, consulting and accounting,” said Beth Saliba, the Associate Director of the Career Services Center. “As career counselors, [Assistant Director of Alumni Relations Darrin Roberts] and I
talked about the recurring things that students have questions about.” 

The Careers in Science Speaker Series hosted four CMC graduates
that represented many different paths in science after college. Jones is currently a Health and Benefits
Analyst with AON Hewitt. Though she was unsure about what her path might look like, Jones’ involvement in a sports team translated into teamwork skills in the workplace and helped her develop an interest in healthcare. 

took a health care class with Professor Lynch senior year, and that got me
interested in healthcare,” Jones said. “One day an alum who graduated in ‘09
who works for AON Hewitt told Beth she was interested in hiring a Claremont
student, and so I got connected with her, and the rest is history.” 

Lauren Harrell CM ’09 shared a
similar sentiment of uncertainty and exploration of different paths before
settling on one. Harrell is currently a Graduate Student Researcher at UCLA and
will complete her Ph.D in Biostatistics there in Spring 2015. 

think I changed my major about 30 times while at CMC, and I even tried to create
my own major doing something that looked like computational biology, and that
didn’t fly,” she said. “Before my senior year I thought I would apply
to medical school, but in the fall of 2008, the economy started tanking, so I
took a look at my resume and saw I had experience in Biostats. I applied to
different universities, wound up at UCLA, and from there I actually found that I
enjoyed what I was doing so much; I stuck around to get my PhD from there.” 

Many students feel they should have a more finalized idea of their post-graduation plans, but many find it to be difficult. The panelists attributed such sentiment to the diverse interests of CMC students and their subsequent hesitance to forsake one interest in pursuit of another. 

interested in so much, and with this career path, I get to change what I’m
studying all the time,” Harrell said. “I’ve had fellowships with education
research; I’ve done consulting with zoos on endangered species projects.
When you’re the statistician, you get to choose your projects and get
paid more than most people for doing these kinds of things.”

Morgan Shattuck CM ’11 took her Chemistry major and turned it into a business. She plans to attend business school next year. 

“I originally
thought about applying to Ph.D programs my senior year, but I didn’t
really have the focus of what I really wanted to study to make a commitment to
a Ph.D program,” she said. “So I was able to get a job at a small pharmaceutical company in
Azusa, California, to do process development and manufacturing. You get a much
broader range of experience working at a smaller company, and wearing different
hats, than you would at a large company.”

Kelsey Rose CM ’10, a medical
student at UCLA, majored in Science and Management. She took a year off to coach soccer at her local high school before working in the CMC Athletics department and applying to medical school. Each alum has varied interests and took different pathways to achieve their goals. 

“For me, the reason I
was able to take that year off and continue for athletics for a bit was that it
showed continued dedication to the one thing I had shown dedication to for the
four years of college and that’s something that the application
committee really likes to see, in addition to clinical experience,” Rose said.

Students also appreciated the College’s efforts to bring more attention to the sciences. Ali Siddiqui CM ’15, a dual major in Biology and Literature, found the panel eye-opening in terms of his career possibilities. 

“It was helpful to
see that there are many careers in the science field, and that it’s
not just medicine,” Siddiqui said. “What I’ve realized is that a lot of
opportunities like this don’t really depend on what’s
available, but it’s how available you make it.”

While the event was helpful in and of itself, Director of Career Services Diana Seder hopes that students will take advantage of the alumni as well. 

“They’re a great resource,” she said. “I hope you take a few moments to
introduce yourself, chat with them, talk about what your future might hold and
get … their feedback and their advice on what things you might do. This is
all part of networking, starting conversations, it’s getting to know
folks who are in the field close to what you’re interested in.”

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