We were so pleased to kick off the semester with our first annual Haverford College Liberal Arts Career Conference. Welcoming 16 alumni back to campus, 64 students were dressed for success and ready to network.
If you missed the write up on the Haverblog about the inauguration of the event, Dean Kelly Cleary says it all, as she stated in the article that the goal of the conference was to start conversations between students and alumni, “Alumni are the foundation of our career-education program and our recruiting program,” she said. “An important piece of almost every conversation we have with a student is encouraging them to talk with alumni who’ve been through the process before or who work in the industries they’re interested in and can give them first-hand advice.”
And guess what? That is exactly what happened! Jenny Bogoni ‘88 (Growth & Structure of Cities Major, Executive Director, Read by 4th, Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation) and Mark Naples ‘84 (Religion Major,Managing Partner, WIT Strategy) kicked off the day with an engaging conversation, Check out highlights of quotes from the conference below:
Mark: Every day I’m going to do something that I’ve never done before. Without a liberal arts background – the reading writing – there is no way that path would be the same.
Jenny: Pick a major that you have passion for; that sparks your curiosity. Don’t worry if you think it will have applicable to job immediately after college… it eventually will. In the major – master a discipline. In mastering a discipline well, you learn the process of how to master something.
Mark: Technology changes and by the time you are 40 years old, you’ll be doing things that your liberal arts education will enable you to do.
(On how Liberal Arts majors can stand out in technology)
Jenny: A Haverford education is shorthand for a general bucket of skills. I assume critical thinking, the ability to go deep on something, and I assume the writing skills.
Mark: When you are talking to people in interview settings, reading and writing and critical thinking are so far more important than other skills.
(Student question on good communication skills and ability to network)
Jenny: Networking is essential. I did not get a single job from a posting that I applied to. That doesn’t mean they weren’t posted – but I found out about them through my connections. They were always because of my social network. Always keep your antenna up.
Mark: Being able to connect with people and add value while networking. Do your research – you have the tools. Find out about things about the interviewer – that’s the thing that stands out.
(Student question on when you don’t have certain qualifications)
Jenny: You need to address it and make a great argument. “I think you need to look at me anyway, and this is why.” Tell your story, and be passionate about it.
Mark: You’ll get a fair look if you are upfront and tell them all of the qualities and skills that would make up for that.
Mark: You have a lot to look forward to and be prepared for the pace of change in the next 20 years. Liberal Arts will arm you better than any other background for that change.
Jenny: Pick something you are passionate about, and do it well. Get close to what you are doing and use that to project you to the next thing. It is a journey.
A Q and A from Skip West’s ‘77 ( Political Science Major, President, Maxsa Innovations)
- Part of entrepreneurship is creating a company out of nothing. Just like an artist will create a painting or sculpture – it’s a very creative process.
- You are building a business but you are building a culture.
- A fun read about business and culture is the Zappos book Creating Happiness. Tony Shea
- A lot of people don’t get in the water. Just have to take the plunge
Student question: Hardest part of starting the business in general:
Starting is hard – taking the plunge. Once that happens, product is hard, and Sales and Marketing. A lot of people have great ideas but how do you make them aware, try it, and repeat customer. You have to understand the consumer.
Student question on overseas Production:How ensure ethically made?
I want to see that person, visit that factory, and can check it out. We have someone based in China who does those inspections. But it’s not simple, and is based on relationships and trust.
Student question – What clicked between you and Mark, your business partner?
The more you know yourself. If I look back on myself, I was really entrepreneurial my entire life but I didn’t know what that word meant. When look back, there was a pattern. The history was there. With Mark, he’s a great engineer and I did the business marketing side. You want to have the pieces you don’t do well in your partner, we clicked in terms of needs. The ethical side is really important – we both had faith and trust one another.
Top tips from the Young Alumni Panel, that included,
Brian Guggenheimer ‘16 (Software Engineer, indify, Computer Science), Gabi Winick ‘13 (Litigation Assistant, Earthjustice, English with a Gender and Sexuality Studies concentration), Oscar Wang ‘14 (Founder and Executive Director, Mentor for Philly, Political Science), Bridget Gibbons ‘13 (Program Coordinator, Benefits Data Trust, Political Science)
Six final pieces of advice: Young alumni panel:
- Use the Haverford Network. It’s a signal of trust.
- You don’t have to figure it all out at once. You don’t have to have one thing you want to do – feel free to name 20 things. Life isn’t an assignment – you can let it evolve naturally.
- Masterful networker actually keep track of their meetings. Jot down notes and keep them tucked away. Follow up, and try to connect other people. They will remember the gesture and pay it back one day.
- Experiment and talk to people. And really try to understand yourself.
- Invest in a personal business cards with your name, URL, email address, cell phone.
6. Even if it’s the first job or internship, there is a lot to explore. It’s fun out there – enjoy it.
The CCPA offers many opportunities for you to meet alumni and network. From Fords on Friday, the Women’s Leadership Tea, and online resources, the possibilities are limitless. Start your journey today!