Gaining an Edge
It can be daunting to launch a career in a tough job market. But students who take advantage of Dickinson’s annual Networking Day gain a substantial edge.
Held this year on Nov. 5, the event connects students with alumni who can help them chart pathways to successful careers.
For the students, it is a chance to practice interview skills, polish resumés, learn about workplace culture and job-search techniques and meet face-to-face with Dickinsonians who are leaders in their fields. For the alumni volunteers, it's a chance to give back. [Story continues below.]
Throughout the day, alumni volunteers offered students advice about workplace etiquette, job searches, career mapping and personal branding.
Jennifer Gordon Ross ’93, chief information officer of PANO, advised students to develop expertise in more than one area. “A desire to continually grow professionally helps you deal with the increasing challenge of doing more and more with dwindling resources,” she explained. “Being able to respectfully consider a variety of viewpoints and opinions is also invaluable.”
Ross added that students have many opportunities to develop professional relationships long before they venture beyond Dickinson’s limestone walls: The Career Center offers events, services and resources, and she often advises students interested in her line of work.
“I enjoy giving back to Dickinson because I benefited so much from my experiences there,” said Ross, who majored in French and sociology and minored in art & art history. “Anything I can do to enhance the current students' experience is meaningful to me.”
Dan Wasser ’01, an associate in Goldman Sachs’ finance division, emphasized the importance of strategic thinking. “I’ve learned over the years that your career is an evolving, learning process that can take shape over many years,” he said. “Many students are completely lost when it comes to how to apply, network and interview for a job in the finance sector. My goal [is] to provide the students with practical information to enable them to assess their competition and be somewhat strategic about their application process.”
Nancy Shoup Fishman ’88, program coordinator of business partnerships for the Pennsylvania Key, agreed. “My best advice is to network. I wish that, [as a student], I had fully appreciated how important that is,” she said, adding that she has hired a student intern as a result of Networking Day.
Caroline Thomas Whitehead ’98, whose first boss was a Dickinson alumna, also is eager to pay it forward. “I had a great first-job experience that enabled me to move in interesting directions with my career,” said Whitehead, an intergovernmental coordinator and congressional liaison for the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force, established by President Obama. “I want to give back like that. I can provide insight that might help.”
Mentoring opportunities also exist in the classroom, said Whitehead, who majored in environmental studies. She reported that advice she received from Michael Heiman, professor of environmental studies and geography, helped her greatly in the early days of her career. “It’s one of the perks of going to a small school—I felt like someone was really looking out for me,” she said.
By MaryAlice Bitts Jackson
Photos by Carl Socolow ’77