Alumni help at Career Symposium

Alumni offer students a leg up during Career Symposium

November 14, 2019
Ariel Wish '20

During one of several break-out sessions by career area last Friday during the Career Symposium, two recent MJD graduates with successful careers in journalism or media work, Marianna Nowacki ’16 of Champlain College, left, and Liam Elder Connors ’14 of Vermont Public Radio, right, present in St. Edmund’s Hall.

A group of eager students and committed alumni filled the McCarthy Recital Hall on Friday, November 8 to kick off the 12th annual Saint Michael’s Career Symposium. An effort of the Alumni Board of Directors—many of whom were in attendance—the Symposium works to aid and inspire students thinking about their professional futures through conversation, networking, and testaments from those who have come before them.

“These alumni are showing the world what a Saint Michael’s education can do to enhance society. They are living the Saint Michael’s mission by doing well and doing good,” said President of the College Lorraine Sterritt, welcoming back to campus the nearly 40 alumni who traveled from all over the country to share their stories and connect with students. She urged students to listen carefully, ask questions, and approach the evening with an open mind. “These conversations are truly the foundation of finding a professional path and meaningful connections,” she said.

The kickoff panel, titled, “Transitioning Away from St. Mike’s,” was composed of four young alums: Gina Pandolfo ’14, Shannon McQueen ’16, Anthony Lopez ’16, and Michael May ’18. Discussing how they take advantage of Saint Michael’s resources, overcome obstacles, utilize their degrees, and have adjusted to living outside the college community, each panelist represented different majors, career paths, and approaches to life after graduation.

Despite their differences, all four alums agreed that utilizing the strong network of St. Mike’s alumni, professors, career advisers, and even peers has been their greatest asset both during their time on campus and after. A graduate student of political science, McQueen reported that she stays in contact with her professors at St. Mike, often inquiring about the role of professorship—a career she’s considering for her future. May shared that he not only attends various Saint Michael’s networking events in Boston, but also stays in touch with his senior year career advisor. Lopez recounted the story of how he found employment in a company that had hired St. Mike’s alumni in the past: “People like the type of person a Saint Michael’s alum is,” he said.

Another theme of the panel was the flexibility and opportunity for exploration that a liberal arts education provides: “you don’t need to know what you want to do forever, you just need to think about what you want to do next,” McQueen told the students.

After a question and answer session with the audience, students and alumni went to Saint Edmund’s Hall where they reconvened in classrooms to participate in smaller panels, broken up by discipline: accounting/finance, business/entrepreneurship, exploratory, education, government/policy/law, journalism/media arts/public relations, marketing, healthcare, technology, and environment/sustainability. Students were able to choose two different panels to attend, both an hour long.

The evening was concluded with a networking reception in the Roy Room of the Dion Family Student Center, where students were able to talk to the alums they had heard on the panels, taking what may have been the first steps in their professional journeys.

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