Spotlight on Humanities and Social Sciences Alumni: Nicole St. James

stjamesName: Nicole St. James

UR Major:  History

Other UR Majors/Minors: English Literature major

Current City, State of Residence: Syracuse, NY

Job Title: Project Coordinator for Syracuse and SUNY ESF

Employer: New York Public Interest Research Group

Community Activities: joined a local alumni chapter of my sorority


How did you choose your major(s)?

Without explaining my entire history of switching majors numerous times, suffice it to say that thanks to UR’s open curriculum I was able to combine my interest in history with a knack for writing into a double major. It happened by chance really, when I realized I had completed more than half of those major requirements without exactly trying to do so.

What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?

I was an athlete for a short time, a member of a sorority, some philanthropic clubs like Amnesty International, and also Class Council. It was Class Council that really helped me find my interest in politics that resulted in my current job.

What are some specific skills students should develop during an internship?

Successful interns are proactive and do not need to ask questions about what to complete next. They should understand their role in the company/organization and not need to report to someone every half hour with a concern. I learned this while studying abroad and it has really helped shaped my professionalism.

What is your opinion regarding graduate school vs. working right after graduation?

I believe this decision is different for every person based on their current academic and/or financial situations. Some students just need a break from academia for a while, which is fine. Others would prefer to continue onwards right away – also just fine.

What was your first job after graduation? What college experiences prepared or qualified you for that position?

My first job was directing the Rochester Outreach office for NYPIRG this summer. This transitioned me straight into the campus position I have now within the same organization. I believe Class Council, having planned Senior Week and also speaking with administrators regularly, helped me secure the activist-minded skills for these positions.

What early career advice can you give to current UR students studying history?

A vast majority of history majors do not anticipate becoming historians for their career. If you are one of those, as I was, I suggest focusing your career interests into your extracurricular activity time. That was how I found my interest in the environment and political change. Stay active, read often.