Sophomore Career ConnectionsAlumnae/i, Parent, and Guest Mentors Share Knowledge with Students

What does it take to bring almost half the sophomore class back to campus five days before classes start? The chance to learn about myriad possible careers in their areas of interest from experts in the fields—Vassar alumnae/i, parents, and guests.

Natalie Nixon ’91, Design Strategist and Principal at Figure 8 Thinking LLC, used visual exercises in her collaborative presentation to students.Photo: Karl Rabe

“What we really hope to do is to get students thinking early in their college career about the power of the Vassar network,” says Stacy Bingham, Director of Career Development and Assistant Dean of Studies.

The fourth annual Sophomore Career Connections brought 235 sophomores to campus on January 19–21 for a weekend of professional development and networking with 75 alumnae/i, parent, and guest mentors. The program began with featured speaker Dr. Natalie Nixon ’91, Design Strategist and Principal at Figure 8 Thinking LLC, who used a series of visual exercises to teach students how to tell their stories to potential employers.

After a good night’s sleep, sophomores—dressed to impress—started off with a networking breakfast, followed by a keynote address by Gloria Cordes Larson ’72, President of Bentley University, who advised students to be open to change and to dive into their careers. Then it was on to three career cluster sessions, each led by alumnae/i, parent, and guest mentors.

There were 17 industries represented: 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; management consulting; nonprofit and social justice; scientific research; visual and performing arts; and writing and publishing.

David Stevenson ’20, a biochemistry major who plans to continue his studies at medical school, says, “The inspiration the mentors gave me motivated me to want to go into that career path and follow in their footsteps.”

Guest speaker Darys Estrella '92, P'22 gave sophomores tips to achieve professional success.Photo: Karl Rabe

 

In between the career clusters, mentors led breakout discussions while noshing on boxed lunches with students.

“I was really nervous coming in to talk to them, but they’ve all been so personable and it’s really helping me get ideas for what I want to do,” says Maiel Richards ’20 of the mentors she met. “It’s so cool to see all of the diverse paths they’ve had.”

Jacob Silver ’20 says he attended the management consulting, financial services, and business and entrepreneurship career clusters and learned a lot about the various types of possible careers with his major in economics with a correlate in computer science.

“Going forward, I really have a strong idea of what I want in terms of looking for internships this summer and moving forward in the type of career I want,” he says. “I’m very happy that I came.”

Students weren’t the only ones to enjoy the weekend, which also included plenty of opportunity to network during receptions and meals.

A Sophomore Career Connections mentor for the past two years, Tasha Gill ’95, Senior Advisor for Child Protection in Emergencies at UNICEF, says Vassar students are curious, have diverse interests, and think openly about their impact on the world.

Students were able to attend three career cluster sessions in the industries of their choice.

“I’m quite convinced I got much more out of [students] this year and last year than they ever got out of me,” she says. “Their enthusiasm, their interest, their intellectual curiosity is absolutely contagious. It’s energizing.”

Mentor Charles Kim ’92, Principal at Charlotte & Company, who led the writing and publishing career cluster, says the students impressed him with their maturity, intellect, and desire to change the world.

“It makes me so inspired to continue the work I’m doing but also to keep giving back to the Vassar community,” he says. “I love this place. I loved it as a student and I love it even more as an alumnus.”

The event concluded on Sunday with a networking breakfast and presentation by Darys Estrella ’92 P’22, who offered inspiring words for students.

“Don’t be discouraged because of closed doors,” she said. “Keep going. One door will be open. That’s all you need.”