Matthew Hillard

What was your class year and major/minor?​

2012, Economics

What is your current job, and city of residence?

Associate Analyst at Abt Associates Inc. (a public policy research/consulting firm headquartered in Cambridge, MA). Currently living in Brookline, MA.

Did your academic or extracurricular experience at Bowdoin influence how you are involved in communities now? If yes, how so?

Yes, absolutely. I worked with Chuck Dorn on an independent study second semester of my senior year focused on the outcomes of the Brown v. Board of Education 1954 decision. Among other things, this experience sparked my interest in education and, more specifically, educational policy directed at urban, low-income populations and settings. I'm continuing that work now within the Social and Economic Policy division at Abt, where I work on numerous projects evaluating educational policies and initiatives. Similarly, my experience with the McKeen Center instilled a desire and passion for always keeping the common good in mind, both in my personal and professional life.

In what ways have you been engaged with the community since graduating from Bowdoin (both professionally and personally)?

For my first two years out of college, I worked for a direct-service education non-profit called Citizen Schools. In this work, I taught a team of 20 7th graders at Orchard Gardens K-8 school in Roxbury, MA. This was an incredibly meaningful, service-oriented first job that deeply connected me with the Roxbury community. I also volunteer as a mentor for an organization called Youth CITIES that teaches low-income middle school students the fundamentals of starting your own business as well as connects them with an impressive network of entrepreneurs and business leaders in the Boston area. 

What's been your favorite or most meaningful experience in public service since you graduated?

The last day of school of my first year teaching I took my class to the top of the Hancock tower in Boston to meet with a partner at Bain Capital. This experience was most meaningful for two reasons; first, being at the top of this building overlooking all of Boston in the office of one of the most successful Boston-born companies was a physical representation of the idea we kept trying to reinforce everyday that with education and hard work comes success in high school, college, and career. Second, the kids behaved so well (and not just for 7th grade standards) which again was a powerful representation of the growth they experienced throughout the year (which any observation of my classroom in the first few weeks of the school year could attest to).

Have any unexpected challenges or difficulties related to this work popped up along the way? If so, what did you learn from these challenges?

Many. First and foremost, I found a limit to the amount of impact I could have on the students I taught as a young, white male. This has been and continues to be the only challenge I've faced professionally as a result of my gender and ethnicity. As such, this challenge offered a very valuable perspective.

What advice do you have for students who want to work for the common good after Bowdoin?

To not be turned off to certain companies or job titles or industries only because they are not historically connected to service or community engagement, or, more generally, the common good. There is an opportunity in every job to pursue the common good, and in fact there is a higher potential for impact bringing those values and desire to affect change in environments not know for sharing such values. Also, sell that in job interviews and networking events. There are very few people that are turned off by a desire to serve the common good, and odds are those few people that are would not be someone you would want to work for anyway.