Sponsored by the Boston College Parents' Council, the event has become an enjoyable rite of the academic year for its participants, organizers say, many of whom are alumni or parents of current or former Boston College students. This year, 55 volunteers manned tables and offered their insights on choosing and pursuing a career.
"I enjoy meeting with the students, and talking about what's going on in my field," said Boston Herald Publisher and President Patrick Purcell, who chairs the Parents' Council Career Outreach Committee with his wife, Maureen. "One thing I've found in the five years I've been coming is that the caliber of students here is outstanding. They are smart, personable and very interested in making the best use of their talents and skills. They would be an asset to any employer."
Suzanne Levine, human resources manager for Cowen & Co., talks with senior Seung Lee at the April 2 Career Networking Night. (Photo by Gary Gilbert)
By all indications, Career Networking Night has proven successful, said Assistant Director for Annual Gifts and Parent Programs Christopher Ross. Many students have reported finding internships, he said, and some have even landed jobs as a result of attending the event.
"Where else can you walk into a room and be able to talk informally to so many people from such a range of professions and companies?" Ross said. "What makes this such a special event is that the person you're talking to might be a CEO, or a managing director, but they're also part of the BC family. They'll do what they can to point you in the right direction."
Ross noted that organizers have sought to have the event reflect changes and trends in the employment scene, as well as student demands - this year saw more of an emphasis on nursing and education, for example, he said.
"Nowadays, many seniors already have a job by this time, and with the promising economic outlook they are pretty optimistic about their chances," Ross said. "So we're seeing, and reaching out to, more of the younger students. We contacted resident assistants in the freshman and sophomore residence halls and had them make sure students knew about the event."
As the evening wore on, students - some in business suits, others in casual attire - strolled around the cluster of tables, read company brochures and perused the list of networking representatives, which included prominent Boston business leaders like University Trustee Thomas O'Neill III, chairman of McDermott/O'Neill & Associates, and Trustee Associate Samuel J. Gerson, chairman and CEO of Filene's Basement. Some of the volunteers they spoke to were only a few years their senior, such as Reebok International Ltd. Interactive Marketing Manager Marvin Chow '95.
"I love coming here - I've come every year since I graduated," said Chow, standing next to a TV monitor which displayed several new Reebok commercials. "I'm just offering a different sort of perspective, because they're where I was not long ago. I think it helps them to see that if you've got the passion, you're good at what you do, and you keep on top of what's happening, you'll be successful."
"Most of what I get are the general 'How do I get a foot in the door'-type questions," said Laura Downes '94, an account executive at the advertising agency Hill Holliday Connors Cosmopulos. "But you also have freshmen who are considering their major and wonder how to tie that into their potential career interests."
College of Arts and Sciences junior Loren Acker praised the event, which she had attended last year. "They genuinely want to help you," she said. "Everyone asked me for my resume and they gave me their business cards and said to stay in touch. I even talked to someone in the area of finance, although it's not my specific interest; it's just a good way to get a look at the whole spectrum."
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