Career Symposium Piques Student Interest

It's not every day you get to pick the brains of a Border Patrol agent and a guy who directs private investments to development markets overseas.

But on November 2, over 135 current students and 25 alumni from across the country participated in the Fourth Annual Career Symposium, which facilitated just these kinds of interactions. The event began with a keynote address from renowned motivational speaker Jay Rifenbary, who spoke to a packed Cheray 101 about the necessity of constantly keeping true to one’s own values, living out one’s own leadership qualities, and the need to appreciate others. 

From there, participants broke off to different panel sections, covering everything from government and non-profits to IT, finance and business. After two different panel sections, students were invited to mingle with all of the alumni who had participated in the event, in the hopes that this more informal gathering would allow students to gain insight into the career areas that these people worked in.

Personally, I really enjoyed the entire event. Jay offered some great advice (if nothing very concrete) and I really enjoyed talking to the alums and seeing where their lives had taken them. The one thing I really grew to appreciate was how so many of them are now working in fields that have no connection to their majors—a fact that might seem foreign to many seniors. 

It was also really heartening to hear the recent alums (those who had graduated in the 2000s) talk about how they got their first jobs and slowly built up their careers. I think it really helped a lot of my classmates to realize the importance of extracurricular work, especially internships and real world experience, that is so necessary to bolster a resume and separate yourself from other recent grads. 

As one of the point-people for driving student attendance, I really wanted to convey the event as an enjoyable experience rather than an intimidating one. I wanted students to go and hear about other people’s experiences and realize that it’s really not that scary out in the “real world,” that yes, they can find a job (and a good one, at that).

-E. Matthew Connolly '12