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Alumni help third-years take the next career step

link to: College ReportOn January 15, more than 400 third-years eagerly sought words of wisdom from 66 University alumni at the third annual Taking the Next Step conference, co-sponsored by the Maroon Key Society and the Student Alumni Association--with assistance from the Alumni Association, Career and Placement Services, the Office of the Reynolds Club and Student Activities, and the University Community Service Center. The event, held at the Chicago Hilton and Towers, was funded by the Office of the Dean of the College. Designed to give students advice on how to make the transition from college to the “real world,” the conference featured 16 different panels on a range of possible post-graduation pursuits, from careers in the sciences and the arts to graduate programs to hi-tech jobs.

image: Shelley Ulrich, AB'98, answers questions (Photo by Llloyd DeGrane)
Shelley Ulrich, AB'98, answers questions after the "Doing What You Love While Earning a Living" panel.

“The entire day was a very inspirational experience that happened just at the right time,” concluded one conference attendee, third-year Katrina A. Oppen. “I had recently been panicking about internships for the summer and career choices for the future, and hearing the stories of U of C grads old and new helped to calm my fears about the job application process ahead of us."

Buses left campus every 15 minutes beginning at 9 a.m. to shuttle third-years downtown. Told to dress casually, the students left their interview suits at home and mingled in jeans and sweaters. After Alumni Association president and Washington Post columnist Bob Levey, AB’66, reassured students in his opening remarks that the College will prepare them well for the future, they struck out for the panel discussions. Panelists included alumni from across the country who work for organizations as diverse as NASA, J.Crew, Pfizer, NBC News, Second City, the White House, Merrill Lynch, the Center for AIDS Research at San Francisco General Hospital, and Ameritrade.

“We really strove to have the greatest breadth of topics possible in order to attract the greatest number of students,” said fourth-year Jessica Robinson, a co-chair of this year’s conference planning committee.

The bottom-line message behind many of the alumni comments was perhaps best summed up by luncheon keynote speaker Elizabeth Michaels, AB’88, who is the president and business director of Chicago-based Jellyvision, an interactive media company responsible for the game You Don’t Know Jack. Michaels advised the students: “Make sure that whatever it is you do is something that you have a real passion for, something that you’re going to feel great about.”--C.S.

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