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QUEST: How an Open Mind Led to Open Doors

January 19, 2023

This story is included in the most recent issue of Quest Magazine, the College's twice-yearly Alumni publication. To view the entire issue online, or to view longer-form "Quest Extra" pieces, click here.

Emily Hamilton ’18 grew up in Buhl, Idaho, the youngest of three children. Her great-grandfather, J.C. Hamilton, was one of the principal founders of Farmer’s Bank. Emily Hamilton expected that she would go into the family business, the first woman in her family to do so, joining her father and brothers. “My career path in my mind was very black and white,” she recalled. Her education choices reflected the planning for that outcome. Hamilton was set on The College of Idaho for a liberal arts education with an emphasis in finance.  It was a crucial choice in Hamilton’s career path. 

The College requires all Business Administration seniors complete at least one, two-credit internship. Hamilton had already met the requirement the summer before her junior year, working as an intern in the family bank, as well as completing a summer school session abroad at the National University of Ireland in Galway the summer before her senior year. She had the ideal spring semester planned for her senior year: 12 credits, no classes on Friday, and no plans for another internship. She knew she was going into banking. Accounting and Finance Instructor John Danielson ’76, who was head of the College’s Business Advisory Council (BAC), persuaded Hamilton to go out to lunch on a Friday with Jon Bunten ‘06, co-founder and managing partner of RecorGroup, an Idaho based food broker, to discuss an internship opportunity with his firm. 

Hamilton was hesitant on the idea. She didn’t need another internship to graduate. A career in banking was a guaranteed certainty. Her plan was to work 5-10 years in Boise for a larger bank and then return to the family bank and work for father. This was RecorGroup’s first internship for a College of Idaho student. Danielson urged her to apply, saying “It’s only for three of four months. It’s a good experience. You won’t know if it doesn’t interest you unless you give it a try.” Hamilton said she’d think about it over the weekend. 

The internship was a chance to try something new and develop a different skillset to add to her business tool kit, which really appealed to Hamilton. Importantly, she also knew that banking would always be there for her. She thought about the opportunity all weekend. And on Monday made the call to say “yes.” 

After graduation Hamilton began the officer training program with Idaho Independent Bank, per her original career plan. Two and a half months later a position with RecorGroup opened and Bunten gave Hamilton a call to offer her the job. Hamilton said “yes” again to RecorGroup and has not looked back. She has worked for the company a little over four years and has been promoted twice. She loves everything about her job: her co-workers, the clients she interacts with, and especially the travel opportunities that come with the job.  

In thinking about it, Hamilton has this advice. “Listen to all ideas,” she said. “If I had said ‘no’ to that internship, I wouldn’t be where I am today.” 

Miriam Schneider is a guest writer for Quest. 

For more of Hamilton and Bunten’s story, please visit our Quest Extra page.  

The College of Idaho has a 132-year-old legacy of excellence. The College is known for its outstanding academic programs, winning athletics tradition, and history of producing successful graduates, including eight Rhodes Scholars, three governors, and countless business leaders and innovators. Its distinctive PEAK Curriculum challenges students to attain competency in the four knowledge peaks of humanities, natural sciences, social sciences, and a professional field—empowering them to earn a major and three minors in four years. The College’s close-knit, residential campus is located in Caldwell, where its proximity both to Boise and to the world-class outdoor activities of southwest Idaho’s mountains and rivers offers unique opportunities for learning beyond the classroom. For more information, visit