JUSTIN FORTIER ’18
The Bantam Student Success Program was a huge success. On Oct. 13th and Oct. 14th the Career Development Center (CDC) put the staff to work and brought in almost 50 alumni for the special Trinity Days event.
The program began on the evening of Oct. 12th with an introduction to the program, and the career development center, and a bit of trivia all coordinated by the Assistant Director of the Career Development Center, Bretton Boudreaux. Once the teams got the intellectual juices flowing for the days to come, everyone was able to head back for a good night’s rest in preparation for the programming, which began bright and early on Monday morning. There were several different seminar options available to students in the program including workshops on resumes, cover letters, and personal finance.
Over the first day, the CDC staff worked to outline the hiring process, addressing a breadth of professional issues, ranging from how to find jobs and internships to how to close the interviews. Assistant Director of the CDC Victoria Sandoval ran an interview workshop in which the Career development Center Fellows talked about the do’s and don’ts of interviewing, to give Bantams an edge when it comes down to the final stages of the process.
A few highlights of the workshop included the recommendations to always dress for success, even for a phone interview, because by dressing well, you mentally prepare to take the interview seriously. Another piece of advice was to prepare for questions about fitness for the position and behavior in addition to technical ones. Such questions are important in order to have a grasp of what is necessary to fulfill the duties of the position, but job candidates can also learn about themselves through the process. Such self-analysis often entails questions such as: “What is the biggest challenge you faced and how did you overcome it?” or “Why did you choose to attend a liberal arts college?” or “Why are you interested in the position?” These questions can throw the even the most technically-prepared individual off their game, so it is important to prepare fully and be a well rounded interviewee.
The resume and cover letter workshops provided a more personal touch to resume and cover letter guides that are available on the CDC “Careerlink” website. The CDC staff walked though the organizational points and helped students best communicate their experiences and achievements to concisely demonstrate their acquired skills and the value in their past commitments. For those students who previously had not developed a resume at the college level, it was a valuable hour to make strides to get an application ready. After the conclusion of these morning workshops the staff encouraged the students to make a follow up appointment with the CDC so a fellow of staff member can go though specific concerns, and review applications on a more detailed and personal level.
The afternoon brought new discussion topics as well as a captivating presentation from Jeb Balise ’04 on finding individual passions and entrepreneurship. He believes that entrepreneurship is “baked into every single one of our DNA because of our ancestors or our own crazy decisions to travel across the world to try to make a better life.” Balise is CEO and Founder of PuzzleSocial, the only company to currently have a crossword app in the top 100 in the iTunes store, but he asserted that this endeavor hadn’t always been going so well, “There were dark times three or four years ago when I couldn’t write a paycheck.” But, because he was doing something he loved, crosswords, he was able to push through even when the money was not there and the future looked bleak. He engage with the students in attendance and began to probe the audience in order to understand what they liked to do, and began to get the wheels spinning on what entrepreneurial and career paths may be available in what they love to do. “I know it is a cliché, but it really is true, if you do something you love doing, and put all your heart into it, the money will follow,” Balise said.
The second day’s events were held at the Connecticut Science Center, where students were bussed over for a breakfast before a series of motivating speeches from President Joanne Berger-Sweeney and the Chair of the Board of Trustees, Cornelia P. Thornburgh ’80. The women recounted their own personal journeys and how the students could best take advantage of the day, as well as their time at college and within the greater Trinity network moving forward.
The panels brought together almost 50 alumni and featured professionals from a variety of fields, ranging from non-profits to medicine and finance who were gracious enough to take the day off from work to share their experiences and advice for those interested in breaking into different industries. While the specific content of the dialogues is off the record, so the students could receive the most honest and sincere perspective as possible, every panelist recommended that students be proactive, and urged students to use every tool at their disposal, from professors, friends, the CDC and the alumni networks, as well as to learn as much about the industries as possible. Many panelist conceded that they had gotten at least one position from their Trinity connections, and felt inspired to continue to help the new generations of Bantams.
All in all, the BSSP was a valuable Trinity Days experience for all who attended and will continue to be supplemented by CDC events over the course of the year.