Spotlight on Engineering Alumni: Nick Hamlin
Occupation: Solver of Problems
Education (UR and additional): BS, Mechanical Engineering; BA, History (both UR). Postbac coursework in Economics (Seton Hill University)
Current job title: Proinspire Fellow- Operations
Current employer: GlobalGiving
Current city/state of residence: Washington, DC
Why did you choose to attend the University of Rochester?
I came to Rochester because it was the only school that would not only let me study engineering, history, and music, but actively encouraged it!
When and how did you choose your major(s)?
I’d picked out my rough areas of focus during my last year of high school. I’d had a blast competing in “Battlebots” competitions, so I knew I had to do something related to engineering. I’d also made a documentary film with two friends that won the national history fair in 2004, and I didn’t want to miss out on studying history either. Finding a school that would let me do both was critical, and ultimately why I chose Rochester. The fact that they then let me do a Take 5 in Ethnomusicology was the icing on the cake.
What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?
Directing and performing with the Midnight Ramblers was the defining aspect of my college career. My education at UR consisted of half classroom learning and half leadership, organizational, and performance skills I could not have developed without the Ramblers. I also founded the UR chapter of Engineers Without Borders during my Take 5 year, which was a great opportunity to learn about the challenges facing startup organiztions, though I wish I could have hung around longer to see the group grow into the excellent program it is now. I’m extremely thankful for the current Hajim students who have put in such excellent work to help EWB develop, and I can’t wait to see how their project goes!
What did you do immediately after graduation? How did you decide to take that path?
I moved to the Pittsburgh area and worked as a reliability consulting engineer at PTC, the engineering software company. I had no clue what I wanted to do, and I was lucky enough to find a great job close to my apartment. Even though I’d never worked in reliability before, working at PTC was a fabulous chance to “learn by doing” and I was able to get my feet wet in the “real world” of international business.
What do you do now and why did you choose this career?
I’m currently a member of the Operations team at GlobalGiving, an online platform that connects donors with grassroots international development projects around the world. I’d been interested in international development and non-profit work ever since my Take 5 year and my work with EWB-UR, and I worked closely with a startup NGO in Pittsburgh, the Cameroon Football Development Program, after graduation. Thankfully, I found the ProInspire fellowship, a program that pairs young professionals in the private sector with non-profits looking to leverage corporate skills. ProInspire led me to GlobalGiving, and the rest is history.
What skills, tools, or knowledge from your major have been most useful to you since graduation?
Even though I’m not working in a strictly engineering role at this point, the ability to “think like an engineer” and work methodically and logically through a problem has served me extremely well, especially in the non-profit world where I encounter fewer people with a technical background. As miserable as it was sometimes to be stuck on the 2nd floor of ITS doing problem sets at 1:00 AM, being able to execute on a complex challenge in a tough situation like that is invaluable.