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Skidmore College

Second annual Career Jam draws crowd to Case Center

April 17, 2011

Second annual Career Jam draws crowd to Case Center

Career Jam

Information tables were busy at Friday's
Career Jam (Sam Brook '12 photo)

The Case Center buzz was louder than usual on Friday, April 15, as the second annual Skidmore Career Jam got under way. By the end of the afternoon, dozens of students had connected with potential employers and mentors, and five lucky students received grants to support their summer internships. 

Approximately 50 alumni and parents representing a wide range of careers participated in the three-hour Career Jam. Students stopped by to hear more about specific job fields, to learn how alums got their jobs, and to get some well-meaning advice on dealing with a market that is turning slowly for the better. Parents, faculty members, and alumni led mini-classes on such topics as entrepreneurship, the art and science of networking, selling the value of a liberal arts education to prospective employers, and advice on how to interview. Students sat in on the sessions and then visited the array of information tables spread throughout Case Center's second floor.

Skidmore's Parents Council and Office of Career Services collaborated on the event, which was designed to help students with their career strategy and prepare them for life after Skidmore, according to Gail Dudack, a 1970 Skidmore graduate whose son is a member of the Class of 2011. Dudack, a finance/equity market strategist and managing director of Dudack Research Group, and her husband Pat Colombo, a business-retailing entrepreneur, are chairs of the Parents Council who helped launch the Career Jam in 2010.

An improving economy is reason for optimism as the Class of 2011 looks to the job market, according to Penny Loretto, interim director of Career Services. She said, "The hiring climate is definitely better for the Class of 2011 than it was for the Classes of 2009 and 2010. We are hearing back from many students who are in the process of interviewing for internships and full-time jobs, which was much less the case for graduates from the past two years."

Continued Loretto, "It's hard to say how long it takes students on an average to find work since some find their jobs prior to graduation while others may still be looking over the course of the next six to 12 months. Some students may end up taking a job temporarily that is unrelated to their major or they may join competitive organizations such as Teach for America or the Peace Corps to gain valuable knowledge and skills immediately after graduating from college."

Two students who visited the event appeared confident about their ability to meet workplace challenges, and realistic about current prospects, given the economy. New York City resident Jun Zhang '11, a health and exercise science major, said he is applying to medical school but plans on having a gap year. He is looking for yearlong research jobs. "I might as well start," he said, about his job search. His solid grades and research experience, and experience in job shadowing has prepared him for the realities of the job market, he believes.

S.K. Rashid '12, a New York City resident and business major, is flexible. He said he is willing to go anywhere to further his business experience, and attended Career Jam to learn more about summer internships. His goal is a career in private banking.

Thomas C. Wilmot Jr., a 1999 Skidmore graduate, represented the real estate development and management field at Career Jam. He shared some advice for students looking for work this spring: "Students need to be pretty open-minded about jobs and consider how a series of jobs can be a stepping stone to where they want to go. Internships are huge," he said. "They should be a must for all students," he added.

"Shark Tank" yields surprising results

Career Jam

Why are these students smiling? They have
received funding for their summer internships.
From left: Weller, Meli, Iredale, Molenda, Cowe.
(Sam Brook '12 photo)

A highlight of Career Jam is the opportunity for students to compete for internship funding.Two students were scheduled to receive a $2,500 internship stipend?one each funded by the Parents Council and Skidmore's Council of 100?for the summer of 2011. A total of 25 students completed an application for the stipend. Five finalists were chosen to compete at the Career Jam "Shark Tank" session.

Because internships are often unpaid, students who need financial support to complete the internship (for transportation or housing in an unfamiliar city) may not seek this valuable experience if they cannot afford it. The Career Jam "Shark Tank," fostered by Jerry Katz '76 (who is also a Skidmore parent), allows students to pursue a fulfilling experience without worrying about how to finance their plans. 

Students and their projects were as follows:

Matthew Cowe '11, who will work at Albany Medical College this summer as a lab assistant on research related to a compound used to treat drug addition. He hopes to have a career as a scientist.

Aneta Molenda '14, sociology major with an interest in low-income communities and inner-city education programs. She will work at the Fresh Air Fund, an organization that provides summer vacations to low-income youth.

Chris Iredale '11, an aspiring actor, has a spot in the performance intern program at Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, Mass.

Laura Meli '12, will intern at Weill Cornell Medical College on research into adolescent schizophrenia and cognitive behavioral therapy treatment. She hopes to study clinical psychology, earn a doctoral degree, and work with adolescents and children.

Rachel Weller '13, will work with victims of domestic violence and their children. She will help prepare victims for legal hearings and research ways to improve the delivery of services to clients.

All students gave one-minute presentations and answered questions from the judges, then waited while the judges deliberated. Cowe was selected to receive the Parents Council award; Meli received the Council of 100 internship. It appeared that was the end of the event but then Dan Cox (a Class of 2012 parent) spoke. He said, "What I'm learning is that there is a lot of generosity shown by people who see things and make things happen," he told the students. Two parents in the room during the competition were so moved by the students' plans that they offered on the spot to fund the remaining three internships.

Said Cox, "There are no losers here. You will ALL be funded for your summer internships." The announcement brought a round of applause and a bright start to the summer for five ambitious students.

Click here to read a Career Jam story published in The Post-Star. 


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