“The wider world is now with us for the duration, and we must move to meet it.” So said Williams President Jack Sawyer some 50 years ago. Today, that wider world is more connected and more complicated than ever, and deeply in need of leaders with global perspective and a sense of responsibility for advancing society. Williams students are eager to lead. Through our 50th Reunion class gift, we have the opportunity to invest now to support students who wish to pursue opportunities for experiences in government service on the federal, state, and local level in the hope that these experiences will provide inspiration for careers in public service
There are few areas today with greater need for effective leaders than government and public service. However, since we graduated, the preparation required for life after Williams has shifted dramatically – especially for students interested in public service careers. New approaches and new tools are required to help students from all backgrounds discover possible paths, develop real-world skills, identify high-quality learning opportunities, and create lifelong connections and networks for professional growth.
Just as members of the Class of 1971 found careers in or related to government and politics via innovative programs like the Mead Summer Internship Program, so too are today’s Williams students imagining lives in public service through the Williams Career Center – specifically, its Careers with Social Impact (CSI) initiative.
With the goal of providing comprehensive, personalized career advising, the Career Center reorganized in Fall 2016 around five Career Communities, one of which is CSI. Each advisor has built out industry-focused programming so that each community offers customized counseling, curated resources, opportunities for alumni interaction, and relevant job and internship postings. This ongoing, multi-dimensional Career Community approach is today’s gold standard for effective career education. Today’s students are inspired and directed to careers via participation in a suite of connected opportunities and career preparation programs – each supported by the broader college community.
This reorganization is part of a larger Career Center strategy to serve all post-college paths and all students, regardless of family or financial background, and to do so by working with students across all four years of their years at Williams. Through a naming gift from the Class of 1968 and other investments, Williams is reorienting the Career Center to serve as a primary and necessary connection between the academic program and the outside world and create links across campus.
The time to support talented students interested in public service careers is now. By helping provide real-world opportunities for students, we would hope to inspire students in their course selection and preparation of honors theses, to think critically about how our political processes, democratic institutions, and election system might be improved, and to consider what might be done to raise the level and quality of civic discourse.
A class gift to endow a fund to encourage the pursuit of careers in public service within the CSI initiative will transform the scale and quality of the opportunities Williams students interested in government and public service careers are able to pursue through and beyond Williams. In making this gift, we will help elevate public service at Williams for generations of Ephs with the skill, energy, and vision to sustain and improve their communities and our country.
Careers with Social Impact Initiative
Launched in September 2016, the CSI Career Community was created in response to increasing demand from students for career development opportunities focusing on public service. The CSI Career Community aims to meet the needs of students interested in politics, federal and state government work, think tanks, environmental, sustainability, nonprofits, NGOs and law. The Class of 1971 Fund for Careers in Public Service would be administered to support the goals of that initiative.
CSI operates through collaboration with campus partners, alumni (including Senator Chris Murphy ’96 and Congressman Don Beyer ’72), and faculty and staff members (including Prof. Jim Mahon in Political Economy, Prof. James McAllister in Political Science, and Carrie Greene in the Dean of the Faculty’s Office).
Focused programming through the Career Center currently includes:
- Multiday “Career Treks” to Washington, D.C. and New York through which students meet with alumni at different stages of their careers. For example, a January 2017 Foreign Affairs Career Trek enabled 20 students to visit alumni in Congress, the United Nations, the Pentagon, the State Department, the New York Times, and Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service.
- Short internship opportunities during Winter Study for students to job shadow at think tanks, nonprofits, legislative bodies, government agencies, and related professions.
- Students can apply for funding for 10-week summer internships through the Alumni Sponsored Internship Program (ASIP). The majority of current applications for ASIP funding come from students pursuing unpaid or low-paid opportunities in government and nonprofits. For Summer 2017, the Career Center awarded 144 grants, a large share of which was for student working in CSI-linked careers. However, resources were not available to fund another 80 strong student proposals.
- The Career Center also regularly presents on-campus events and panels spotlighting alums working in public service through its “How’d You Get There?” series and other Career Community-organized programs, including interview workshops and networking sessions. Young alumni who have most recently navigated the hiring process can offer tremendous benefit to current students – however, these alumni are often not in a position to return to Williamstown without travel assistance.
Alongside programs like these, the CSI Career Community offers students formal and informal ways to educate themselves about career opportunities and build their profiles. Those include skill-building tools, self-assessments, workshops on topics like interviewing and resume-writing, interactions with peer-to-peer advisors, and technology-enabled mentoring with alumni.
An Opportunity for Impact
An investment in the CSI initiative from the Class of 1971 will benefit Williams students and the communities in which they will live and work for generations to come. The best class gift to support the Career Center’s CSI programming would blend current gifts with an endowed fund to bridge present impact with future vision. The following chart provides a sense of the current needs and costs of Career Center activities. Funding would be used at the discretion of the Career Center Director to support the awarding of additional summer and Winter Study internships alongside related career development programs like Career Treks. These Programs will be offered to students regardless of their major.
| Example New Endowment
Sought for Activity
| Example Annual
Cost to Provide
| $800,000 (enough to support 8
| $100,000 per
| $40,000 (at $5,000
| CSI Winter
| $100,000 (enough to support 10
|$10,000 per student|| $5,000 (at $500 per
| CSI Career
| $100,000 to support initial
scope (1 trip of 20-25 students)
|$5,000 per trip|
Endowment gifts totaling at least $1,000,000 paired with outright gifts over five years of at least $50,000 ($250,000 total) would provide the CSI initiative the resources it needs to jumpstart core activities and sustain them over the future.