By engaging with alumni at the Career Impact Summit, Knox College students picked up advice about navigating life after Knox, and they polished skills that will benefit them as they search for jobs and develop careers.
“As a senior who is about to graduate, it was important for me to listen to stories from alumni who have been through ups and downs,” said Nhi Nguyễn '19. “They’ve already been through what we’re going to go through soon.”
A dozen Knox alumni and nearly 100 students participated in the Career Impact Summit on January 4-5, the first weekend of the 2019 winter term. This is the sixth time that Knox has hosted the summit, organized by the Knox College Bastian Family Career Center and sponsored by the John D. Carlin Career Development Support Fund.
The event featured keynote speakers, networking opportunities, and breakout sessions covering more than a dozen topics, including careers in technology, the role of personal values in the job search, and preparing for an interview. In a wide-ranging question-and-answer session, alumni talked about such matters as de-stressing, establishing a work/life balance, and dealing with co-workers.
Nguyen said she especially liked a “speed networking” session that involved all students and alumni “because it really taught me how to create a 30-second elevator pitch.”
Kyle Yang '19 said his favorite session was led by Mike Gilbert '99, who spoke about LinkedIn as a job search tool. “He gave us a lot of tips on how to reach out, the best way to do it, things to not say, things you may want to say,” Yang explained.
The alumni presentations often highlighted the value of a liberal arts education.
A Knox education, in particular, “can literally give you the world,” Jeff Gipson '94 told students in his session, “Using Your Liberal Arts Education in the Real World.” He said employers want to hire people with the skills that students develop here, such as critical thinking, strong oral and written communication, ability to work collaboratively, and intercultural fluency.
In her presentation, “Creating a Competitive Advantage: Becoming Career Ready,” Jess Drew '07 encouraged students to think about their talents, experiences, and education and then to consider what would be most relevant to potential employers. “Figure out what kind of life you want to live and how a job will fit into that life,” she said.
Leela Yeleswarapu '19 said the Career Impact Summit helped her realize the importance of building connections with people who might be able to assist in her job search. “The alumni were really helpful in providing insights and, sometimes, even being willing to pass on our resumes,” she noted.
One of Yeleswarapu’s biggest takeaways came from the closing presentation by Ryan Cannady '99. Thanks to his remarks, she said, she now understands that instead of comparing herself with others, “I need to look within myself and focus on my own growth.”
“I really benefited from the fact that this year’s summit also gave a lot of importance to mental health, sleep, and other things,” she added. “It wasn't just career-related, but also about how to lead a better, fuller life.”