Hartford, Connecticut, April 14, 2017 – Trinity College’s Career Development Center (CDC) recently hosted the ninth annual Bantam Student Success Program. This two-day event enabled students to refine their networking skills and meet more than 70 alumni across 16 different industries. The program provided the opportunity for any interested Trinity students to attend, regardless of their class year.
Kevin Finefrock, assistant director, career and personal preparation, and one of the organizers of the event, said that studies have shown that between 70 percent and 85 percent of respondents have found their jobs through networking. “The Career Development Center wants to make sure that all students have the opportunity to develop and practice these skills well before they begin to search for jobs in their senior year,” Finefrock said. He noted that this program is beneficial for both the students and the alumni. “These interactions benefit the students in that they are able to make valuable connections with alumni who can help them think through their own sense of purpose, values, and career goals,” he said. “The event also benefits the alumni, who are able to get a sense of campus life and have the opportunity to develop talent and skills among Trinity’s current student population.”
The program began on a Friday afternoon with two workshop sessions. The first session was led by Victoria Sandoval, relationship manager, strategic partnerships and outreach, and Jett McAlister, associate director. The session covered the basics of networking, how to properly navigate LinkedIn, and instructions to access Trinity’s alumni directory, “MyTrinNet.” The students received the opportunity to practice their “elevator speeches” and to develop questions to ask the alumni the following day. The second session was led by Jamie Szal ’06 and featured her advice on the best practices of attending a networking event, similar to the one the students would be attending on Saturday. Szal shared her own stories of making connections that led her to her current job as an associate at Brann & Isaacson in Lewiston, Maine.
Friday’s program ended with a dinner and talk by Bryant McBride ’88. McBride is the CEO and co-founder of Burst and has extensive experience in entrepreneurship and technology.
The second and final day of the program began with an introduction by Trinity President Joanne Berger-Sweeney of the event’s keynote speaker, Trustee Christine Elia ’96. Berger-Sweeney first welcomed the group and said, “In addition to the practical advice and perspectives that you will learn today, I hope that you will also spend some informal time networking and discussing not just jobs, but the meaning of purposeful work.” Following Berger-Sweeney’s remarks, Elia shared her story and advice on how to navigate life after Trinity. Elia’s career has led her to work at ABC Entertainment, UPN Network, and The Huffington Post. She also was the CEO and founder of Closet Couture, a social shopping platform, and she is currently the creative director of Snap + Style.
Following Elia’s speech, participants chose to attend any four of 16 different industry-specific panels featuring alumni in that field. The first grouping of panels featured alumni from “Government Legislation & Policy,” “Food & Hospitality,” “Health Professions,” and “PR/Marketing/Advertising.” Students attended one panel from this group, and chose another panel from the second grouping of “Education,” “Engineering & Technology,” “Visual & Fine Art,” and “Financial Services & Consulting.” The third and fourth panel sessions featured a variety of industries including, “Law,” “Real Estate,” “Entrepreneurship,” and several others.
During these sessions, students heard about the careers of each of the panelists, how they reached their current positions, and their advice on how to navigate their industries. The second half of the session allowed students to ask questions.
The alumni represented careers from ESPN, The New York Post, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, LEGO, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and more. The alumni panelists were comprised of financial consultants, lawyers, entrepreneurs, and journalists, and even one of Jimmy Fallon’s personal assistants was in attendance. Such a wide variety of panelists allowed students to see the range of places a Trinity education could take them, and to make meaningful connections with these alumni through informal networking opportunities incorporated in between sessions.
The event was well-attended by first-year students, sophomores, juniors and seniors, with a total of about 85 students participating. Brooke LePage ’19 of Franklin, Mass., said, “The alumni were all more than welcome to share their challenges, triumphs, and tips for success in whatever industry they are a part of. I was able to walk away with a new headshot for LinkedIn, in addition to various business cards and contact information of alumni in my industry of public policy and law. Students of all grades, in various stages of their internship and job searches, were able to benefit from the program.”
Learn about other Career Development Center programs here.
Written by Sophia Gourley ’19