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Students try working in Vacationland

February 8, 2019

Courtesy of Andrew Estey
EAST COAST EMPLOYERS: Hundreds of students attended Maine Employer Career Fair, where dozens of companies and nonprofits presented and networked with attendees.

“Work in the state you love” was the tagline of this week’s Maine Employer Career Fair, which brings employees from across the Pine Tree State to campus. For Bowdoin students, that state might be the one they grew up in or one they had never seen before arriving on campus. But all students who have worked in Maine over the summer can agree on one thing: spending a summer in this state is an invaluable experience.

Ripley Mayfield ’19 spent last summer planting crops at a farm in Freeport. She said she didn’t even consider working in a big city because she wanted to work at one of the small scale businesses that call Maine home.

“[Working in Maine] has been good at helping me realize your bosses can be your friends and [work] doesn’t have to be a scary hierarchical system. It builds confidence,” Mayfield said.

Like Mayfield, Caroline Carter ’19, who cared for baby seals at Marine Mammals of Maine, said she chose to stay in Maine because working at a smaller organization offered the opportunity to learn about business models.

“I think that working with small nonprofits, of which there are a lot in Maine, is really valuable because you learn so much about the way that a company is oiled and how it works and runs,” she said.

Lenoir Kelley ’19, who worked in a tech start-up in Portland, chose to stay in Maine because she felt the smaller organizations here would allow her to do more fulfilling work.

“You get to do more, make more decisions and have more [of an] impact and not just be filing papers,” she said.

Carter echoed the sentiment.

“The people that you work with really treat you like an [equal],” she said. “They want to know what your suggestions are and what your recommendations are.”

On top of the more personal experience of working with a smaller organization, the opportunity to engage with Maine beyond academics lures many students into spending summer on campus.

Sam Milligan ’20 spent last summer working at the Natural Resources Council of Maine and valued the new perspective he got on the area around campus. He has found that many students get stuck in the “Bowdoin Bubble” and don’t engage with the community around campus, and jobs in the area allow students to break free.

“You can get not only integrated more into the Bowdoin community that stays behind, but also integrated into Brunswick’s community and get a better sense of where we’re actually living,” Milligan said.

Kristin Brennan, executive director of the Career Planning Center, agreed that working in Maine helps students engage with the community around Bowdoin.

“We see Bowdoin as a part of the fabric of the community in Maine,” she said. “And it is always great when students have opportunities to really immerse [themselves] in the state we live in.”

Other students cited the networking opportunities as a core part of their decision to work in Maine. Olivia Giles ’20, who grew up in Grey, Maine, said that, since she plans to work in her home state after graduation, choosing to stay here over the summer will help her build a network for future employment.

Kelley agrees that the network of Bowdoin grads in Maine offer more opportunities to current students.

“There are so many Bowdoin connections in this area that want to help you out and want to see you succeed,” said Kelley. “You’re not going to get that if you go to New York City.”

In addition to the career opportunities, students have found that Maine is a great place to spend the summer. Visitors and summer workers alike take advantage of the beaches, the parks and the “Vacationland” culture that comes to life once the academic year ends.

Giles loved the opportunity to explore new towns, try new restaurants and explore the natural beauty of the state. Sylvia Bosco ’21, who worked at the Biodiversity Research Institute in Portland last summer, found her summer in Maine made up for the chilly weather of the school year.

“It’s nice to see another side of our currently snow-covered campus,” Bosco said.


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