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Students encouraged to take advantage of a wonderful alumni network

Alumni offered career advice to students during Seminar on Success Jan. 30.
Alumni offered career advice to students during Seminar on Success Jan. 30.

Navigating the transition from student to employee can be tough, but on Jan. 30 the fourth annual Seminar on Success program, sponsored by the office of College advancement, offered tips and advice from alumni experts.

More than 100 students – a record for this annual program – attended.

Frances Cole Jones ’86, author of several corporate coaching books, gave the keynote and focused on preparing for interviews. Four other alumni – Gil Bianchi ’96, who practices law in Rhode Island; Yoko Shimada ’99, a health specialist at the World Bank in Washington, D.C.; Giovanna Gray Torchio ’02, who works for a London-based design firm; and Usman Sheikh ’04, a fixed income trader at UBS Investment Bank in Stamford, Conn. – shared their career stories.

“We all remember how challenging the experience can be which is why we felt so strongly about giving students the right tools to help them during their job search,” said Beth Poole ’00 who helped coordinate the seminar and is an associate director of alumni relations.

Participants received a copy of Jones’ latest work, The Wow Factor, in which she describes a myriad of techniques to help readers stay sharp in the rapidly evolving business field.

Jocina Becker ’10 took advantage of a question-and-answer session and asked Jones how to best conduct herself during a phone interview.

“Stand in front of a mirror while you speak, take notes, sound interested and confident,” said Jones. “These small changes could very likely be the deciding factor in whether or not the interviewer hires you.”

The alumni shared stories about the varied paths they took after graduation. Sheikh also reminded students that they already have access to a wonderful network of alumni.

“I personally feel honored to be contacted by students, be it for career advice or simply to network, and I think all alumni of the College share this sentiment,” Sheikh said.

All five alumni said they enjoyed having an opportunity to return to the College.

“I had a great time connecting with my fellow alumni and students,” said Shimada. “It’s always good to be back on campus.”

Added Jones: “I had a ball. The students were wonderfully engaged … what a great afternoon.”

The popular Seminar on Success will return next spring.

Alumni are connecting with students – and each other – in other ways, too:

CAMELs in Boston and New York
On Jan. 20, CAMEL (Camel Alumni: Meet, Exchange, Libate!) networking receptions took place in Boston and New York City. Since both events took place over winter break, Connecticut College seniors also took advantage of these opportunities to connect with alumni.

In Beantown, more than 20 alumni attended the reception at Boston Beer Works, where they were offered free beer tastings and billiard games.

At the Manhattan gathering, over 50 alumni met up at Lucille’s Bar & Grill in Times Square and enjoyed the “blue camelritas,” created special for the occasion. With an amateur boxing match happening less than 100 feet away, bright lights and media attention added to the excitement.

“Let’s have these Conn events more often,” Carra Gamberdella ’97 e-mailed after the event.

Distinguished Alumni Series in Boston
In Boston, alumni also had an opportunity to take part in the Distinguished Alumni Networking Series Jan. 14 and Feb. 8. About 40 people turned out to hear from Estella Johnson ’75, the director of economic development for the City of Cambridge, and Stuart Sadick ’77, a partner at the executive search firm, Heidrick & Struggles.

At the opposite end of the coast, 24 alumnae reconnected Feb. 4 when the Connecticut College Club of Southwest Florida hosted an art tour and luncheon at the Naples Museum of Art. The tour included a special exhibit titled “Chihuly: Recent Works” that celebrates the museum’s 10th anniversary season and features renowned glass artist, Dale Chihuly. The event was “a great success,” said organizer, Nancy Sanders ’63.

-Rachel Harrington and Matt Zientek ’10

February 12, 2010