Career Connections Brunch teaches students networking, provides advice

While most of the campus was asleep on Saturday Sept. 28, almost 80 students and 37 alumni gathered in the College Union Ballroom for the ninth annual Career Connections Brunch. The brunch was the result of the collaborative efforts of the Office of Career Development, Activities Commission, Alumni Relations and Geneseo Opportunities for Leadership Development.

“The main goal is to connect students with alumni through the practice of networking,” Heather DiFino, career counselor and organizer of the event, said. The intent of the event, she said, was for students to obtain internships, jobs or simply mentors through the alumni.

Networking was a main theme of this brunch, as it was not only the purpose of the event but the main advice given by attending alumni. Students learned the importance of making connections through their personal experiences and practiced the skill firsthand at the table discussions.

The event had a casual arrangement, with round tables set up in the ballroom perfect for information conversations between students and two alumni at each table. A buffet-style meal was also served.

This GOLD program was open to all students and included alumni from a span of professions. Included among the roster were CEOs, businessmen, scientists and dozens of others. Students had the opportunity to pick alumni with whom they wanted to speak.

Among those I spoke to were Jim Rogers '04, who worked on Mitt Romney's campaign team, Kate DeForest '93, the current director of advancement at Boston University School of Medicine, and Dennis O'Brien '00, a legislative director for the Monroe County Legislature.

They shared very helpful and reassuring information about searching for and finding jobs, choosing a major and making connections. Hearing about their imperfect experiences and genuine advice allowed me to take a deep breath and realize that my road to success will not be flawless and will not be possible alone. Like many of the alumni, they were clearly excited to attend and speak with students and seemed eager to give advice - and occasionally internship opportunities - to those who attended.

The enthusiasm and openness of the alumni made this event truly special, as they paid personal attention to each student that sought them out, some even scheduling later meetings and appointments with students they did not have time to converse with.

Students of all fields, from biology to education, were excited by the onslaught of opportunity, and the buzz in the room was tangible as people shook hands, said their goodbyes and exchanged business cards.

The personality and possibility in the room was very exciting to participate in, even though, as a freshman, I went for advice more than anything else. GOLD and Alumni Relations provide other events and opportunities for connecting with alumni throughout the year.