I was interviewed by The Cornell Commitment, a service and fellowship program at my alma mater, Cornell University.
A link to the abridged interview on Facebook:
I’ve reproduced the full interview below.
What do you love about being an alumnus?
The Cornell Network.
The Cornell name carries cachet not just because of academic rigor, but its contributions to society at large. Some schools are known only for contributions in a limited range of industries or particular areas of the world. Because Cornell boasts so many courses of study, it attracts a wide range of people from all walks of life. You can find people with ties to Cornell in every corner of the earth. I’ve met numerous alumni by chance encounter in my own daily life. The reach of the network is something to behold.
What do you miss most about Cornell?
The campus and my classmates.
The scenery on and around campus is second to none and Ithaca residents were a pleasure. While Ithaca is a ways away from any metropolitan area, there’s enough to do to keep you occupied. The seclusion was a benefit really, as it encouraged me to form deeper relationships with the people around me. I spent many nights playing games like Monopoly, Halo, and Mafia, activities that provide more real-life value than you think. The Cornell experience is what you make it.
I spent the two previous summers before my freshman year at Cornell (Veterinary Research Apprenticeship Program  and COSEP ), so Ithaca was home for the better part of the last decade. I lived through the demolition of the old west campus(Class of 1918 Hall, ‘26, the original Noyes Center–when it used to have an arcade) and witnessed the introduction of the new (Hans Bethe House Suite 401—I’m looking at you). I don’t miss the long walks to class near the Veterinary School, but I remember my time in Ithaca fondly.
What was the biggest change for you post-undergraduate-wise?
The biggest change was the introduction of new freedoms. As a college student, you’ve got time for leisure and the power to make some decisions, but daily life is linear. Once you’ve graduated, school is no longer a requirement and you’ve got a degree of autonomy you’ve never experienced before, With that power comes new rewards and challenges.
The oft-heard expression “your college years are the best times of your life” has a ring of truth to it, but it shouldn’t be something you settle for. College will be the scene of many of your lasting memories and those years do fly by, so you don’t want to waste that time. Every day is a chance to design the life you want to live. You may not have as many same-aged people living in close proximity once you graduate, but you’ve got more freedom to congregate with people of all ages who share your interests and values.
What did you love about your time as a Commitment Student?
Participating in the Cornell Commitment Leadership Emergence and Development Program (CCLEAD) in the Spring 2006 semester. Former coordinators Stephanie and Kirsten did an excellent job lining up guest speakers. At the end of the semester, the CCLEAD participants conducted a workshop for Ithaca High School students, presenting information on teamwork, leadership, and conflict resolution. The experience was rewarding and left a lasting impression.
Give 3 suggestions for things undergraduates should do at Cornell
- One thing you feel you didn’t take advantage of, but wish you did.
I wish I participated in a course at the Cornell Team and Leadership Center. Those outdoor excursions and team-building activities look like a good time.
- One suggestion specifically for Commitment Students in their programs
Take more classes that pique your interest, even if they stray from the curriculum for your major. College is a time for discovery and examining your core beliefs. If you’re a Commitment Student, you already understand the value of hard work. Diligence paired with a sincere interest in a course of study is a recipe for success.
You can always convince the administration to count the credits towards your degree requirements and you never know where those classes might take you.
- One Cornell thing you wish you could be doing right now!
A Cornell thing I wish I could be doing right now? Playing a game of Mafia with friends. A trip to the dairy bar would be a close second.
How do you occupy your time these days? Work? Volunteering at a place you love? Pursuing new projects?
I’m a consultant, helping people devise strategies for business and career negotiation. Weekends are spent playing (a lot of) football.
Writing takes some of my time, too.
I published a book last summer that’s of particular interest to the Cornell family:
Title: “No” Doesn’t Always Mean No: Strategies for Influencing Behavior and Winning Cooperation
Description: Strategies for growing a business, enhancing interpersonal intelligence, and expanding your social and professional network.
It’s a good read for young professionals (e.g. Cornell Commitment Students), entrepreneurs, job-hunters, and anyone interested in solving problems in business and social settings.
I also maintain a blog, Justtaptheglass.com, exploring real-world applications of social psychology and economics.
Are you working in a field you studied? What is one thing you wish you would have done as an undergrad now that you have been working in that field? Any advice for others looking to change fields?
Anyone over the age of fifteen should pick up this book:
Now What?: The Young Person’s Guide to Choosing the Perfect Career by Nicholas Lore.
It does an excellent job of articulating the ‘why’ and ‘how’ in your journey to answer the “what do I want to do with my life?” question. This book goes far beyond the usual worksheets and advice found in most career search resources.
I studied Applied Economics and Management (and, for a while, Animal Science) and it relates to much of what I do on a regular basis. Outside of medicine, most college graduates don’t work in fields directly related to their major. You do, however, use much of what you learn in college in your post-graduate life. As long as you can demonstrate experience or abilities relevant to your desired industry, you’re good to go.
You should get used to asking questions and challenging assumptions about the world around you. Intellectual curiosity and a flair for the creative are valuable not only during your career search, but many other areas of life as well.
You’ve got to let your mind wander past the perimeter of what’s fashionable; life’s more enjoyable that way.