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Q & A with Former Political Science Majors
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Dan Rosenfield: is Dean of Enrollment Management at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
Graham Mackenzie: is a program manager for the United States Treasury.
Hardy Spire: is a senior producer for the CBS News Early Show.
Lawrence Kaufman: owns a New York-based real estate advisory firm.
Michael Marcus: works in marketing/advertising for ESPN Digital Media.
What skills or information learned in college do you find yourself making the most use of?
Dan: Communication skills and analytical skills primarily. I think most folks would tell college-bound students that the value of higher education is much more about personal growth and skill development than facts/information.
Graham: Waiting until the last minute and staying up late to finish a project.
Lawrence: I gained an ability to think critically, analyze a lot of information and boil it down to its essence. I think I also learned that there are often numerous ways of looking at an issue and the answer is not always "black and white."
Michael: For me, it was more about personal growth, interpersonal skills, development of my own personal belief system and convictions. College was probably the most significant phase for personal growth and maturity.
How did you decide which field to go into after college?
Dan: I pretty much fell into education after deciding to "try it" until I figured out what I wanted to do. After that, I pretty much fell into my current field after being asked to fill in for someone on medical leave.
Graham: Going to law school was Plan A, but I didn't get accepted. I prepared myself for Plan B by student teaching and obtaining a teaching certificate in college but decided against going that route. I ended pursuing Plan C, entering the business world, by getting an MBA.
Hardy: At a moment of complete confusion following my graduation I realized the only consistent theme throughout my life was an interest in working in television. From my childhood idea of life as a TV weatherman to my college internship, it was the common denominator of everything that interested me the most.
Lawrence: I always had a pretty good idea that real estate would be my field. Several family members were in the industry and I was exposed to it at an early age.
Michael: The job market was pretty tough and particularly competitive in the world of sports. I landed in media/advertising out of necessity. It was a close enough parallel to the world of sports/broadcasting and a nice introduction to the media industry.
What's the number-one bit of advice you wish you were given before you entered the job market?
Dan: That people do not have to have a long-range career plan and should not necessarily take a narrow focus. Start off doing something about which you are passionate (if you can) and continue to look for growth and options.
Graham: Pick a specific function and become an expert in it.
Hardy: Be willing to take any job in the area that interests you, no matter how low on the totem poll. First jobs never last for very long, and you can't get the job you want until you figure out a way to get in the door.
Lawrence: Create a three-to-five year plan, and think about how what you are doing today will help you get to the next step in fulfilling that plan.The focus of the plan can shift, but having one helps to keep you focused on always moving forward—wherever that leads you.
Michael: Take some time to travel/explore the world for a few months. Don't stress about finding a job.
What was your first job out of college?
Dan: I sent out about a hundred resumes and registered with several teacher placement agencies and wound up working at a small boarding school for underachievers in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts for $4,000 a year plus room and board.
Graham: I answered an ad and accepted a job as a marketing assistant for a company that was the leading supplier of buttons to the fashion industry and fabric stores in the country. It was fun and a great motivator!
Hardy: My first job was as a CBS page working throughout CBS television in New York City for $7.50 an hour. Responsibilities ranged from working on the news desk at CBS News to seating the audiences for Geraldo and the Late Show with David Letterman.
Lawrence: I was a leasing associate for a large commercial real estate firm. I got the job through a friend of my father. The person who ultimately hired me made me work hard to get the interview—a test I have not forgotten (in 15 years).
Michael: Through a recruiter, I ended up taking a three-month temp job with the ad sales office of Court TV in Chicago. It wasn't sports, but it was in the media world and a great foundation for my career.
If you went straight into the workforce after receiving your BA, do you wish you had attended graduate school first?
Dan:: I went straight to work, a good decision for me because I was not yet committed to grad school or a particular field.
Graham: I worked for two years before going to grad school and am glad I did. Work experience made the MBA classroom and text material relevant.
Hardy: I'm satisfied with my decision not to go to grad school right away. I have no idea what I would have studied, and I needed to get away from the school atmosphere. I think I'd be more successful now if I were to go back to school.
Lawrence: I was happy to go into the workforce straight after school. What I learned from working could not be replicated in a classroom.
Michael: I did not go to grad school and have no regrets. I don't think I had enough focus and discipline to take on more years in a classroom setting.
What do you like most about your current role?
Dan: Lots of contact with a variety of on-campus and off-campus folks, the opportunity to work for an institution with an essential mission, and the ability to help students improve their lives, and the lives of others, via education.
Graham: The fast pace, volume, and diversity of projects I deal with.
Hardy: I'm proud of my alma mater and pleased I was able to turn my liberal arts degree into a career.
Lawrence: Every day is different and every property is different.
Michael: The fact that it's always changing.
What mistake do political science grads often make after graduating?
Dan: Thinking they need a graduation to retirement career plan and not being open to different options/opportunities. Many of the happiest folks I know are in fields in which they never envisioned themselves.
Graham: Accepting a job, or staying in one, that's not right for them.
Lawrence: I think it is tough to make a mistake immediately after college. Any job is a learning experience and will help you make a decision on how to proceed with your next career move.
Michael: Expecting too much too soon. Promotions, hefty salaries and job titles don't happen overnight. Be a workhorse and be willing to do everything asked of you (no matter how trivial). You might seem like a low man on the totem poll, but keep in mind that everyone has been there before.