(First published in the Spring 2017 issue of Echoes)
When I talk to prospective parents and students about Rose-Hulman, I’m dismayed when their first questions are about jobs and salaries after graduation. Not that those aren’t relevant questions. But the truth is, all engineering schools in this day and age should be placing students in great jobs with strong starting salaries.
What I would rather the conversation be about are all of the intangible elements that make a Rose-Hulman education so exceptionally valuable.
As the cover of this issue of Echoes illustrates, our graduates move through life well equipped to maneuver through the twists and turns they encounter on life’s journey, navigating past roadblocks, changing career direction, if desired, and even blazing new paths through invention and research. The foundation has been laid for you to follow whatever route you choose.
As each of you discovered, Rose-Hulman students get prepared for life—not just for a job—through rigorous courses that don’t simply build knowledge, but also teach the rewards that come from hard work. Those lessons are broadened through faculty mentoring and guidance that encourage students to look for creative approaches to problems, take intellectual risks, and pursue unconventional lines of inquiry.
The rich variety of curricular and co-curricular experiences offered at Rose-Hulman, including service projects and study abroad opportunities, instill time management and discipline as they provide important professional growth and enrichment.
And then there is the incredible value of networking. Between the relationships faculty members have developed with industry professionals and the ongoing involvement of our alumni, coupled with career development services that are available beginning in the first year, students have many opportunities to grow their skills and connections over the course of four years.
It is difficult to explain these qualities to prospective students and parents in just a few minutes. That’s especially true of the immense value added by alumni who share their time and expertise speaking to classes, advising competition teams and clubs, leading or assisting on Engineers Without Borders projects, and recruiting students for internships and jobs—to name just a few of the substantive, personal interactions that don’t happen elsewhere to the degree they occur here.
The opportunity to network with professionals is, of course, valuable when it comes to securing a position after graduation, but significant personal interactions along the way help students make critical connections between their education at Rose-Hulman and its practical application. Working alongside professionals further helps students learn appropriate professional behavior, etiquette and dress. Internships, co-op experiences, volunteer service, competitions and senior projects are just a few of the myriad opportunities to absorb important interpersonal and leadership skills that aren’t taught in a classroom.
You might call all of these factors I’ve just enumerated Rose-Hulman’s “olio of opportunity.” Whatever you call it, it is a very special mix that helps Rose-Hulman students become successful alumni, even when they steer away from their chosen path in engineering, science or math to pursue a new professional direction.
Whatever road you are traveling today and whatever detour you take in the future, I hope each of you continues to find great pleasure and reward along the way, and that from time to time you return to Rose-Hulman to say hello and connect with this special place where your journey began.