Springtime brings many joys here in Kalamazoo, Michigan – budding flowers, sunshine, and the long-anticipated arrival of Oberon beer from Bell’s Brewery (if you’re of age, of course!), but it is also that time of year on K’s campus when seniors begin searching for that ideal post-grad job and younger students hope to secure a summer internship. Regardless of what stage of college you are in, thinking about careers and career-building can feel daunting. There’s a lot to consider – resumes, networking, interviews, oh my! The Center for Career and Professional Development, or the CCPD, is always a resource on campus for anyone who needs their cover letters looked at or really any career assistance. But more recently the CCPD has begun facilitating a weekend-long career-building extravaganza for students to build resources and confidence when it comes to all things professional.
Conceived and sponsored by Brad O’Neill ’93, former senior vice president of SurveyMonkey and CEO and co-founder of a new startup, Depot Global Inc., the Career Summit took place this year on April 6th and 7th, bringing in Silicon Valley executives, freelance photographers, nonprofit leaders, and more. This was the second year that K hosted the Career Summit, which provides students with an opportunity to network with professionals from various fields. The weekend consisted of many panels, networking receptions, lunches, dinners, and breakout sessions.
While the majority of the Career Summit speakers were owners of startups and businesses, students outside of the business major still found the event useful. “The conversations I had at the Career Summit pushed me to consider a wider range of career paths than my major,” says Claire Howland ’18, Biology major. “And [the Career Summit] reminded me of the versatility of a liberal arts education.”
The topic of the opening Friday night panel was non-linear career paths. Panelists shared their stories of twisting and turning paths that led them to their current job. They emphasized the importance of keeping an open mind and always listening to what interests you, even if it doesn’t fit your preconceived notion of what your career might look like.
“I think it was a great reminder that the K Community doesn’t go away when you graduate,” Claire continued. “The Summit made it clear to me that there is a vast network of alumni who are so generous with their time and so eager to help fellow Hornets succeed.”
Each of the twelve professionals who spoke at the Career Summit were so excited to talk to current K students; connecting them to resources and providing general career advice. They dedicated two days of their time and energy (some of them flying from the other side of the country!) purely out of a desire to help K students succeed. We can all rest assured that whatever the big scary world of career-building may bring, a robust network of alumni will always be there to support their fellow Hornets.
-Savannah Kinchen ‘18