Carnegie Mellon University

Cameron Dively

Undergraduate Student Spotlight: Cameron Dively

Pittsburgh Native Cameron Dively Talks Internships, Plans and Making a Difference in His City

Tell us about your academic experience at Carnegie Mellon University and in the Philosophy Department.

Varied is a good way to describe my experience at CMU. I didn’t commit to my major until sophomore year, so I spent time taking as many different classes as I could. I settled on ethics, history and public policy because it gives me a chance to look at a lot of different topics that I’m interested in. I’ve taken numerous philosophy classes with a number of different professors, including Kevin Zollman, Danielle Wenner and Alex London. Professor London has been particularly influential for me, with his courses in Ethical Theory and Medical Ethics both being highlights of my time here at CMU.

Most importantly, I have been lucky enough to work with Professor Clark Glymour on two occasions. I helped research and design a freshman seminar course, as well as perform an independent research project last spring. Our conversations are never dull, and it has been great to have him as a mentor.

What was your summer internship, how did you get it and what has it led you to?

My internship this summer was at a political and business consulting firm, the Carey Group in Pittsburgh. I had made a connection with alumnus and Pittsburgh City Councilman Dan Gilman last spring, and he helped me find this opportunity. The organization had never had an intern program before, but it ended up being a wonderful experience. I was able to work with a wide array of clients, from small local non-profit organizations to a national lobbying effort, and everything in between.

That internship gave me experience with how to build coalitions, as well as how effective it can be to bring different parties to the table with similar goals. This led me to approach Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences Dean Richard Scheines with the idea to start a program to connect Dietrich College students with internships in Pittsburgh. There are excellent opportunities for humanities students here – it’s not just technology opportunities.

Tell us about more about that project.

From that idea came the Dietrich College Pittsburgh Summer Internship Program! I have been working with Dean Scheines and reaching out to local organizations both small and large. One example is the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO), a national organization that provides employment services to men and women with criminal convictions. The Pittsburgh chapter was just founded last December and is an example of an organization that could really use a CMU-caliber student intern to help them with a number of different areas. It is a place where a student would be exposed to numerous opportunities to advance their skills.

Students are sometimes unaware of some of the great opportunities in Pittsburgh. You don’t have to go to Washington, D.C. to be exposed to politics, policy or non-profit work, and I want to try to rebuild the bridge between Pittsburgh and the students who could fit these opportunities here in the Dietrich College. The program will also provide a stipend for students whose internships are unpaid, so that students will feel comfortable pursuing internships that interest them, not ones that simply pay them.

What has been your most memorable experience at CMU?

Definitely giving the Convocation speech this year to the incoming first-year Dietrich College students. It was humbling and gratifying to be asked by my college to give this speech. Despite things I know I’ve done wrong, I must have done a few things right along the way. Being asked to speak to the incoming class really reaffirmed my belief in myself. That renewed sense of confidence is part of why I’ve been having such a great semester, and more particularly why I have been able to feel comfortable walking into rooms filled with professors, corporate officers and community leaders.

It made my mom really proud, too.

What other activities are you involved in at CMU?

I’ve played on the club baseball team since freshman year and have loved every second of it. I’m a catcher, and my brother is a pitcher – it’s pretty amazing to be in college and still get to play baseball with my brother. I’m also a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, and my experiences there have certainly helped shape who I am today. I’m a Highland Ambassador with Alumni Relations, a Peer Mentor in Dietrich College and was an Orientation Counselor. And…I taught a StuCo on Zombie Survival.

What are your career goals/plans for after graduation?

First goal is to get a job in Pittsburgh, and ideally it will be in government relations or political consulting. I may want to get my MBA later, but I want to work for a few years and figure out what career I want to have to then get the graduate degree that works for that. I’ll be staying on with the Dietrich College Internship Program over the summer to assist in that endeavor, helping manage any problems that may come up. I’m also very involved with Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. I’m part of the Children’s Trust, which is a group of young professionals that volunteer and fundraise with the foundation, so I plan to continue my commitment to them and hopefully one day to serve on the Board.

What is your advice for incoming first-year students at CMU? Is there anything you would go back and do differently?

My first piece of advice is to be willing to meet people. College is probably the best environment there is for meeting new and interesting people, but it can be easy to fall into a familiar routine and miss out on new opportunities. This leads to my second piece of advice, which is to become comfortable talking with people. Communication is an often overlooked skill, yet it is perhaps the most important ability to have once you leave graduate. Wherever you go in life, communicating with others is always going to be necessary.