By Julia Cinquegrani, Managing Editor ||
Five recent F&M alumni returned to the College to share their experiences and give career advice to students, in the Department of government’s annual career forum Wednesday. The alumni, all of whom majored in government, discussed their careers and how they got to where they are today, exemplifying the diverse careers to which a government degree can lead.
The talk began with the alumni discussing their current jobs and the first jobs and internships they had that helped them advance their careers.
Daniel Wu ’11, trade and investment adviser for White and Case LLP International Law Firm in Washington, D.C., splits his time between Washington, D.C. and Bangkok, Thailand, consulting for his company. Wu is responsible for analyzing government relations and trade policies, especially focusing on the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) and ASEAN free trade agreements.
Kate Eckhart ’09, works in Harrisburg as the communications and legislative affairs assistant to Pennsylvania State Senator Joseph Scarnati. After graduating from F&M, Eckhart began working in Pennsylvania State Senator Mike Brubaker’s Harrisburg office as his executive assistant. Two years later, Eckhart began working in her current job for Scarnati.
Christina Hud ’08 is a lawyer for Pepper Hamilton LLP in Philadelphia and specializes in white collar investigations and litigation. As a junior in college, Hud worked as a legislative intern for a Pennsylvania state congressman. After graduating from law school, Hud worked as a court clerk for two years and started working at Pepper Hamilton last summer.
Ed Williams ’99, state director and senior counsel in the office of U.S. Senator Robert Casey, splits his time between Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.
Greg Plotner ’03, global IT finance systems senior manager for Campbell Soup Company, double majored in business and government. He now travels around the world developing ways to grow the Campbell’s brand .
After describing their own career trajectories, the alumni answered questions and gave advice to student attendees.
“I knew nothing about technology, and when I interviewed [for my job at Campbell’s], they wanted me to know about technology,” Plotner said. “They asked me why I thought I could figure it out, and I told them, ‘I went to a liberal arts school, so I think I can figure out anything.’”
On a more serious note, Wu explained that his liberal arts background helps him understand issues through many different perspectives, such as business, philosophy, finance, environmentalism, and public policy. It also developed his critical thinking and writing skills.
Additionally, Hud argued that a liberal arts education better prepared her for law school, where her classes were taught in the Socratic method. Because most of her classes at F&M were taught in a similar style, she felt comfortable in the small classes and discussion-based lessons.
“A liberal arts degree will also give you flexibility, so you can take any number of jobs and will not be pigeon-holed into one career path,” Hud said.
All the alumni discussed interning while in college to explore different career paths, gain real-world experience, and network with other professionals.
In addition, the alumni emphasized the importance of being motivated while working at an internship or entry-level job.
“As an international student [from Malaysia], I was limited by visa constraints,” Wu said. “So I only had a certain amount of time in which I could apply to work, and that time was 365 days [per internship]. Every day I showed up at work, I knew I had one less day, and this reminded me that I was running on borrowed time. And I think that gave me a lot of motivation and drive to everyday work the hardest.”
The panel also encouraged students to realize the professional benefit of their classes, volunteer work, and extracurricular activities. That being said, students should still acknowledge how much they have left to learn.
“Don’t think you know everything,” Williams said. “I think what F&M teaches us is that we’re going to learn throughout our lives, and we should be critical about the world. Carry that into whatever professional environment you are in. And keep an open mind—there is no limit to what you can learn.”
Sophomore Julia Cinquegrani is the Managing Editor. Her email is email@example.com.