A group of Conn alumni professionals passed along critical insight about life after college to students participating in Fast Forward, the College’s new career prep program.
Whether making your resume stand out to secure a job interview or turning an interview into a job offer, telling your personal story is one key to success, Liana M. Douillet Guzman ’05, vice president of marketing and communications at Blockchain in New York City, told Connecticut College students taking part in a week-long career preparation program on campus last week.
Successfully articulating your personal narrative means focusing on “what you want people to know about you, and practicing it sufficiently so that you can share it in a succinct and compelling way in any number of scenarios.”
Guzman passed along this strategy during Fast Forward, a new initiative sponsored by the College’s Academic Resource Center in collaboration with the Office of Alumni Engagement. The program, which took place Aug. 7-12, was offered at no charge to current students and recent alumni.
"Fast Forward is an exciting step toward expanding the offerings of our nationally recognized career program," said Noel Garrett, dean for academic support, and director, Academic Resource Center.
Garrett said that as part of the four-year career program offered by the College’s Office of Career and Professional Development, Fast Forward builds on a commitment to prepare students for 21st-century careers.
"Tapping into our alumni network to deliver real-world advice and skills was extremely motivating for participants. It will definitely give them an edge in the job search process," Garrett said.
Fast Forward kicked off with a dinner and keynote address by Trustee Annie Scott ’84, director of information technology at Middlesex Community College, and concluded with mock interviews, individualized feedback and discussions about mentorship.
Students learned directly from professionals through presentations and open engagement during a series of workshops and seminars run almost exclusively by alumni representing a range of disciplines, from Greg Fleischmann ’90, a global marketing director for Baker & McKenzie in Chicago, to Margit Johnson '15, a health care recruiting associate at Gerson Lehrman Group.
As part of the program, students chose a career track—entrepreneurship, law, nonprofit or health—for specialized enrichment opportunities. Other topics discussed included public speaking, financial literacy and paying for graduate school.
Morgan Cowie-Haskell ’16, who took part in the nonprofit track, found value in the workshops, which she described as open dialogues between students and alumni professionals. Cowie-Haskell plans to apply what she learned at Fast Forward to her recently accepted job with the nonprofit YW Boston.
"I learned about marketing, development and grant writing from the participating alumni and presenters. Fast Forward made me even more excited to start working in the nonprofit sector," she said.
Aleksandr Chandra ’16 followed the entrepreneurship track, and said he gained a foundation for the potential of businesses to impact social justice.
Chandra, who earned degrees in psychology and English, is exploring how storytelling can raise awareness and improve communities.
"Fast Forward has been an amazing experience," he said. "Coming back to Conn to participate in this program has enhanced my professional outlook through interactions with alumni and students. The program has been instrumental in helping me hone my professional profile."