Students, alumni, faculty engage in Career Fest

Suffolk’s annual Career Fest brought crowds of students, faculty, alumni, and professionals to the campus for five days out of the week. The fest brought 15 events, some attracting hundreds of students, ranging  from alumni’s perspectives on international career opportunities to a LinkedIn photo shoot.

“It’s a week that we hope puts the spotlight on careers, that it provides multiple opportunities for students to interact and network with professionals as well as alumni and faculty, encourage students to begin to reflect on their career goals and aspirations,” Paul Tanklefsky, the director of the Career Development Center, said in an interview.

Tanklefsky enthusiastically described this year’s fest as more than a success.

“We had over 800 students participate, every event had a good showing,” he said, with “great conversation and dialogue with faculty representing every department.”

This year, Office of Career Services and Cooperative Education tried something new with their events. Every day had a dedicated theme, hosting events that peaked student interest.

One theme was “Going Global,” and presented a program called Alumni Perspective on International Career Opportunities.  Guest speakers representing government, international development, global business, and international education spoke, according to the Career Development Center’s Career Fest flier.

(Craig Martin/Journal Staff)

Other guest speakers who attended events and talked with students were from big time companies like WGBH, NESN, and Mullen Advertising. Other themes during the week included “Landing and Leveraging an Internship,” “Choosing and Using Your Major,” and “Using Social Media.”

One event that is continuously successful, according to Tanklefsky, was the majors and minors expo. With more than 400 students signing in, three workshops successfully also ran in time slots alongside the expo, “and got good attendance,” he said. These workshops hosted a panel of undergraduates helping students “fish for a major,” with sessions for career testing, and promoting the sophomore job shadowing program.

Kimberly Murray, a graduate fellow in the Career Development Center, will be organizing this year’s sophomore shadow program. The application is due on November 21, and the shadows take place between February 16 to April 17 in 2015.

“The program is set up with sophomores and alumni in the area, and they are able to connect by a shadow, and do a half day or full day,” Murray said in an interview. “It will really allow sophomores to see the day-to-day function of their career interest. I’ll be recruiting alumni, I’m hoping that they will participate whether they’ve done it before or they want to get involved this year.”

Career fields in which students explore alongside alumni can range from government to public relations.

“It is extremely beneficial for students; they’re going to figure out if the career tied to their major is interesting to them,” Murray said. Not only will students see the daily operations of the job, they’ll be able to “picture themselves in that type of career.”

This program has seen exceptional outcomes for students. Murray said, “This is my first year running it so I haven’t seen it firsthand, however the person who ran it last year said there was a student who shadowed, it went really, really well, they got an internship, and it led to a job opportunity. That’s pretty cool.”

The Career Development Center received feedback from students, which, Tanklefsky said, is intended to target where they are and what they might do in the future.

He put a large emphasis on the fact that the center has similar events that happen throughout the academic year, and a goal is to help students identify the increasing importance of internships.

“We have to make sure the number of students participating in internships grows,” he said. “We know the value of high quality experience gives a network, a professional readiness that you can’t find elsewhere.”

“We like to think of ourselves as a one-stop career center,” he said, and mentioned that the office is a place for any student to turn to. Open office hours are Monday through Friday between 1 and 2 p.m. In terms of helping students with direction, he said, “We help identify strategies and provide resources, identifying where they want to go with their careers.”