Alums. pursue alternative careers

by PAULINA KARPIS | 11/12/09 11:00pm

Knocking on doors to sell AT&T products, Mallory McQueen '09 said she is never completely sure if the person who answers will be fully clothed. McQueen, a door-to-door salesperson for an entry-level management training program in St. Louis, Mo., is one of many members of the Class of 2009 who have pursued unexpected careers in light of the financial crisis.

McQueen, who majored in anthropology, said she never envisioned herself working as a door-to-door salesperson after college. She applied for positions in Teach for America and the Chinese Education Initiative. Both programs, however, were increasingly competitive in 2009 because of the economic crisis. Applications for Teach for America jumped from 25,000 in 2008 to 30,000 in 2009, according to the organization's web site.

McQueen found her current position on She said she enjoys her job, pointing to the opportunity to meet new people and take in nice weather.

"The flipside of the down economy is that it forced students or encouraged students to consider a wider variety of options," Career Services director Skip Sturman said in an interview with The Dartmouth. "Given the economy, students may have been more open to pursuing different passions and been not quite as concerned about getting off track with their careers."

After having difficulty finding a job the summer after graduation, Dylan Nelson '09 applied to work as a weekend tour guide at Harpoon Brewery in Boston. Nelson gave tours for Dartmouth's admissions office as a student.

During the week, Nelson, who majored in government and minored in religion and public policy, works at Crimson Hexagon, a software consulting company.

"I'm sitting behind a computer for eight hours a day," Nelson said. "It's an interesting job to have, but certainly at the brewery I'm up on my feet and I'm talking to people. I'm meeting people from all around the country. It's a much more fast-paced energetic job."

Free beer is an added perk, Nelson said.

Some alumni, like Eric Lauritsen '09, decided to switch their career paths independent of the financial crisis. Lauritsen said he decided to pursue his passion for music instead of working in finance.

Majoring in history and minoring in economics at the College, Lauritsen completed an internship at Bridgewater Associates, a hedge fund, during his junior fall, and realized that he was not as interested in finance as he was in music.

"It was difficult to turn down a lucrative industry, but I was confident that my true interests lied in other fields," Lauritsen said. "I've always been a big music fan. My favorite thing is that it is so aligned with my interests. I'm excited waking up in the mornings."

Lauritsen is now an intern at Engine Room Recordings, a New York City record company that manages seven small bands, where he is involved in the promotion of shows and new albums.

For Andy Reynolds '09, the economy did not have a significant impact on his career plans.

"The economy didn't really change my plans it broadened my scope," Reynolds said.

Reynolds is a research analyst at the National Council on Teacher Quality, an education think-tank concerned with teacher training that formulates strategies to improve that process.

Reynolds said the position was not his first choice. He said he always wanted to work on public policy, and the economic downturn forced him to look beyond government jobs, which became increasingly competitive.