Claremont McKenna has a big footprint in Silicon Valley companies, and they use their alumni relationships to great effect. Through the Information Technology Advisory Board, or ITAB, CMC students have access to “executives working in the technology field, who have a special interest in advancing the importance of technology at CMC.” ITAB’s flagship program is the Silicon Valley Networking Trip, a week-long trip to meet with companies and CMC alums in Silicon Valley for “students who have demonstrated an interest in management leadership in the computing or technology corporate arena.” While learning about the various career possibilities in technology fields, students also “gain exposure to job opportunities in technology” and begin networking and establishing relationships with CMC alumni, who often hold high positions in these companies. Many of the biggest technology firms have been represented at the event, including Apple, Google, Electronic Arts, Microsoft, and a number of Silicon Valley startups, including ones founded by CMC alumni. Each company represented provides private meetings with corporate executives who are CMC alumni, a presentation about the company and the work it does, and time for students to ask questions of the presenter. The students attending these meetings have usually done some research into the companies and can ask probing, relevant questions about the company, its markets, and emerging industries that the company might be taking an interest in. The questions and answers session is certainly one way that students can distinguish themselves and demonstrate their value to these corporate executives.
The companies also provide a panel of young employees, who talk about their roles in the company and represent different departments like marketing, sales, software engineering, and operations. Students are also given a tour of the company’s facilities and talk with recruiters to discuss career opportunities. According to the school, “the goal is for these relationships to evolve into summer internship and full-time job opportunities for CMC students in the Silicon Valley,” and often times that is exactly what happens. Through the Silicon Valley Networking Trip, students have secured internships at top companies and startups alike, and they have been sent all over the world. The program does a great job matching students up with employers based on their skills and interests. While the companies are based in the Silicon Valley, the school doesn’t just bring economics majors. Everyone from politics to philosophy joins in, including one international relations student who was sent to Bangalore, India by Infosys. But beyond the direct benefits students get from jobs or internships, the experience is a great way to learn about the structures and needs of various companies and practice the art of networking—an ever more important skill in today’s interconnected job markets.
Because there is a great mix of large companies and small, nimble startups represented at the networking trip, students interested in entrepreneurial opportunities get a chance to learn from founders with different strengths and approaches. A current environment, economics, and politics major told us, “The focus on developing students to succeed in the real world—there is a very strong focus on skills such as networking and learning to interact in a business context. There are also numerous internship and recruiting opportunity to support students.”
Within the School of Economics and Finance, the Robert Day Scholars Program provides students with leadership development opportunities. Students attend workshops and meet with business and government leaders to learn about management techniques and offer insights into their industries or fields. Students network with alumni and friends of CMC in the business community to where they develop personal contacts and get job and internship leads, and they also take part in planned visits with potential employers to discuss business and industry needs. A current student confided that “the focus on cultivating leadership skills” at CMC was a major factor in their choice to attend.
Claremont McKenna comes in at number three on The Princeton Review’s 2016 ranking list for Best Career Services. So it’s fitting that alumni find themselves in the highest ranks of business and government, including as the CEOs of Trust Company of the West, Abercrombie & Fitch, Toys “R” Us and as head of European Markets at Goldman Sachs. CMC has also produced leaders in government, like Montana State Governor Steve Bullock and former California Congressman David Dreier, a 32-year veteran of Congress and longtime Chairman of the House Rules Committee. A current literature student informed us that “most people here are highly motivated, entrepreneurial people that will find success in their future whether it be on Wall Street, Capitol Hill or with their own start-up.” A rock-solid network with “amazing alumni contacts” makes those aspirations a reality. Through their alumni career contacts database, the Career Services Center makes it fairly simple for current students to connect with alums working in industries of interest. Even better, Mentor Connect allows students to find an accomplished alum and enlist him or her as a mentor. In fact, “some older students do tend to branch out more and spend time with alumni in Los Angeles” where they gain valuable insights into life after CMC and further access to the “extensive and helpful alumni network.” Beyond alumni, CMC’s robust internship database allows undergrads to search through a myriad of interesting opportunities. One student sums up the Claremont experience: “The opportunities and resources of professors, study abroad, internships, career services are unsurpassed, yet the balance of academics and social life is very balanced.” With all of these outlets, it’s no wonder CMC grads are so successful.
Few colleges have entire programs devoted to state and local policy, but the Rose Institute has been studying—and shaping—local and state policy in one of the countries largest and most diverse states for over three decades. The Rose Institute, founded by lawyer, business leader, and activist Edessa Rose, has a history of breaking new ground and even “developed the nation’s first comprehensive statewide demographic and political database.” Since then, the institute has be a leader in demographic analysis, redistricting research, political and environmental studies, and most major political events in California—including a “complex and delicate study of South Central Los Angeles during the 1993 Rodney King riots” commended by the Ford Foundation, according to the college. And since its inception, “the Institute committed itself to conducting research with faculty-student teams.” Today the Rose Institute provides students “a hands-on opportunity to take on real-world policy problems under the guidance of leading experts in their respective fields.”
Hardly anywhere else in the country can undergraduates get this kind of exposure to cutting edge, practical research into major political events. Students involved in the Rose Institute’s research opportunities “have contributed significantly to the Institute’s survey research programs, providing high-quality interviewing services, assisting in data presentation, and often playing key roles in analysis. Today, all Rose Institute students are trained in GIS, survey research, fiscal analysis, and legal and regulatory analysis.” For anyone wanting to pursue a career in politics or in government, these are certainly skills that will get a foot in the door.
The Rose Center conducts a huge number of research efforts, including a joint venture between the Rose Institute and CMC’s Lowe Institute for Political Economy called the Inland Empire Center. The Inland Empire is a metro region east of LA that has, despite being the country’s 14th largest metro area, been subject to shockingly few political and economic analyses. The Inland Empire Center, established in 2010, seeks to change that. Through another of its research efforts, the Miller-Rose Initiative Database, the Rose Center shifts focus away from California and onto the country as a whole. “Originally developed by Dr. Ken Miller of Claremont McKenna College and student researchers as the empirical basis for Dr. Miller’s book Direct Democracy and the Courts,” the college explains, the Initiative Database tracks every ballot initiative in the country, from 1904 to 2013, and also tracks post-election challenges to voter passed initiatives. It has served as an invaluable resource for political science researchers nationwide and is indicative of the valuable and lasting research opportunities available to CMC students.