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Helping Sophomores Build Career Connections

It might seem like a difficult task to gather 206 sophomores, dressed to impress, at 8:30am at the All Campus Dining Center. At Sophomore Career Connections, however, students relished getting an early start.

“I wish they had it when I was a student,” says Natalie Nixon ’91, an associate professor at Philadelphia University and one of 56 alumnae/i and parent mentors who participated in Sophomore Career Connections, a three-day program of networking and professional discovery for sophomores.

In its third year, Sophomore Career Connections introduces students to the wide variety of career options available to liberal arts graduates, with the help of alumnae/i and parents who work in an array of industries. The event includes several opportunities to network with alumnae/i and parents and informational, industry-specific career clusters to help students learn more about various fields. The industries included advertising, marketing, and public relations; arts administration; business and entrepreneurship; education; entertainment and media; environment and sustainability; financial services; government and public service; health and medicine; information technology and computing; international affairs and global careers; law and legal services; nonprofit and social justice; scientific research; visual and performing arts; and writing and publishing.

Steven Park ’19, who has already done some professional science writing, says it was great to learn more about his two favorite topics—scientific research and writing and publishing—and to have access to alumnae/i such as David Black ’81, president of the David Black Literary Agency.

“It’s great to talk to these experts who have all this experience,” he says.

Amanda Su ’19 says she went into Sophomore Career Connections not knowing a lot about her cluster industries (advertising, marketing, and public relations and government and public service), but left with new knowledge and advice—plus the experience of networking with alumnae/i and parents who are excelling in their chosen fields.

“You can’t get that kind of connection anywhere else,” Su says.

Meredith Leder ’19 says Sophomore Career Connections helped her realize what she does and doesn’t want to do for her career, and noted it was good to know her Vassar degree can take her far.

“It’s very reassuring seeing all of these Vassar graduates with successful careers,” she says.

Alumnae/i and parents were there to provide perspective on possible careers and to intellectually stimulate the students, giving them a glimpse into many industries, says Dr. Juliet Nevins ’91—who has participated in Sophomore Career Connections for the past two years.

“These students have such open minds and are ready to go out into the world,” she says.

Keynote speaker Jim Citrin ’81, leader of Spencer Stuart’s CEO Practice, educated students about the skills employers are looking for and offered advice on the nature of careers—which he called a winding road, not a straight path. He encouraged students to build strong professional relationships with alumnae/i and others, and to never quit when things seem difficult, but instead, focus on the next task in front of them.

“The key is to get in there and get started,” Citrin says.

The annual event was organized by the Career Development Office (CDO) and the Office of Alumnae/i Affairs and Development and made possible by the generous support of Carol Ostrow ’77 and Michael Graff, both P’09 P’15.

In her closing remarks, CDO Director Stacy Bingham thanked alumnae/i, parents, and the students and offered insight into the sophomores’ professional future.

“As hard as it may seem to believe, you will be in a position to share your own insights and experiences with Vassar students sooner than you think,” she said.

—Debbie Swartz

Posted Friday, January 27, 2017