The 2018 Career Summit: Past Hornets Return to the Hive for a Impactful Weekend of Professional Development

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

SIP Stress Be Gone: Navigating Your Senior Project

Savannah Kinchen holds her Senior Individualized ProjectFriends, I come to you today through the blogosphere with groundbreaking news – just moments ago I officially handed in my Senior Individualized Project (SIP)! I’ve been working on my SIP (or SIPping, as the kids call it these days) since spring of 2017, back when I was panicking about what my topic would be, which model I would choose, and how on earth I would ever finish it. Luckily, I had plenty of resources here on campus to help me navigate all of my SIP anxieties. As an Anthropology and Sociology major, I elected to do my SIP in my major department, although you can do your SIP in departments outside your major as well. Mine ended up being a forty-page research paper, but I have friends who are writing original plays, producing original music, and writing novels for their SIPs. That’s what’s so great about K – you can base your SIP off of whatever experience you want to have. But back when I was in the early stages of my SIP journey, I felt overwhelmed. I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do, and it seemed like everyone else around me had a solid vision for theirs. Luckily, I had the support of the Anthropology Department Chair, Dr. Baptiste, who always welcomed me into her office hours to hear my latest SIP concerns. I’m sure that at larger schools it just wouldn’t be possible for professors to spend as much time with students who needed help planning their SIPs. I feel so grateful to be at a school where the professors are not only easily accessible, but are also so willing to help you find your way, whether it be on a class assignment, your SIP, or life after K.

Through my conversations with Dr. Baptiste, I discovered that I wanted experience in the work force rather than experience with collecting data. She suggested that I do a summer practicum model for my SIP, where I could couple a literature review with a reflection of my internship experience. This sounded perfect for what I wanted, and now the only problem was getting myself a summer internship. That’s where the Center for Career and Professional Development (CCPD) came in. I went to them asking what summer internship opportunities were available and they encouraged me to apply to one of the several Kalamazoo organizations that the CCPD partners with. They coached me through the application process, helped me edit my résumé and cover letters, and even awarded me a substantial stipend once I landed an internship (music to the ears of a broke college student). So not only was I able to gain experience in a field of interest, I was also able to base my SIP off of that experience. The support I was given from the Anthropology and Sociology Department and the CCPD, as well as the abundant opportunities provided by the City of Kalamazoo made my SIP experience a positive one. Whoever is reading this is probably not overly concerned about the SIP just yet, but you can rest assured that K College will give you the resources you need to succeed.

-Savannah Kinchen ’18

“Look, I’m Dancing!”: How an Internship at a Studio that “Inspires the World to Dance” Inspired Me

 

A now-vivid memory for me: while sitting in the holding room for one of my first auditions since temporarily moving to New York City, I struck up a conversation with an older gentleman who, after seeing the “Broadway Dance Center” sweatshirt I had tossed on over my dress, commented on the importance of casting musical theater performers with extensive dance experience. Though I smiled and nodded at his remarks, I had no idea how to tell him the truth: that, while I did work at Broadway Dance Center, I am not–and never have been–the trained dancer he assumed I was.

Trust me, my parents tried: when I was a toddler, they enrolled me in the first level of dance classes at the local studio, hoping to channel my constant excitement into a hobby they thought I would enjoy. However, I didn’t stick around for long, throwing tantrums every time they tried to take me to class–though I did not do so because I hated dancing. In fact, I loved dancing, but I hated “If You’re Happy and You Know It”, the song to which our recital piece was choreographed. Despite the number of toddler-style pirouettes and arabesques that I performed across our kitchen floor, my stubbornness overruled my potential dance career, and I stopped taking classes, turning to acting and singing instead.

Lauren Landman visiting Times Square
Lauren in Times Square

Fast forward seventeen years and, excluding a season on my high school’s dance team, a few quarters of jazz and modern classes here at K College, and the dance numbers in the various shows on my resume, I’ve remained relatively untrained in my dance skills. As someone who hopes to one day make a career performing on Broadway, I knew that I had to find a way to quickly catch up to my friends who had trained in dance for years–especially in tap and ballet, two styles I had never studied, but know are fundamental disciplines for any musical theater performer. Luckily for me, I received the opportunity to study away during winter quarter through the New York Arts Program, which places students from the Midwest into a ten-week internship based on their chosen career path in the arts. When chatting with my program advisor about possible internships, I mentioned wanting a job that would allow me to take dance classes on the side–to which she responded, “I know just the place.”

I started my internship with Broadway Dance Center in mid-January, spending most of each weekday working in the Public Relations/Marketing department, where my bosses welcomed me with open arms. Additionally, I received numerous opportunities to represent BDC outside of the studio. My two favorites were BroadwayCon (I saw sneak peeks of all the new shows coming to Broadway this year) and attending Good Morning America’s Oscar Nomination Celebration (where, as a VIP audience member, I watched as they announced the 2017 Academy Award nominations live–I even got my fifteen seconds of on-camera fame!).

However, my favorite moments at BDC were those when–you guessed it–I got to put on the dance shoes I had been longing to wear and spend ninety sweaty, challenging, glorious minutes in one of BDC’s many studios. While I dabbled in as many different styles of dance as I could (ranging from hip hop and barre to street stilettos and burlesque jazz), I primarily focused on developing my ballet and tap skills. I also loved that BDC offered classes in disciplines other than dance, giving me chances to further develop my acting and voice technique on days when I wanted a brief break from dancing.

Now that my internship has ended, I can honestly say that my experience at BDC has changed my perspective on dance; not only am I a more proficient dancer, but I’ve come to appreciate and respect dance as an art form much more than I did before. Dancers make their work look so easy, but finding myself in classes with many of BDC’s program students, who take classes every day from early morning until late at night, forced me to work so much harder in order to keep up. Adjusting to the daily dance classes also motivated me to take better care of myself; for dancers, but for actors and singers as well, our bodies are our instruments–and we only get one, so if we don’t listen to it and treat it as well as we can, we can end up dangerously hurting ourselves. Though I occasionally pushed myself a little too hard, as I took more classes I felt stronger and more grounded, causing me to leave each one with a smile on my face.

As for my new and improved dancing skills–well, let’s just say that I still have a long way to go. It will take a very long time for me to catch up to dancers who have been training their entire lives, but I now feel more confident in the expertise that I do have. Toward the end of my time studying away, I attended an audition in Boston where I was asked to stay and dance and, though I still found the combinations they taught us extremely challenging, I felt that I handled them much better than I could have before my time at BDC. While my schedule this quarter doesn’t have enough room for me to continue my dance training, I’m hoping to take classes consistently throughout my senior year, especially hoping to continue with ballet. Additionally, once I graduate next year, I’m also strongly considering applying to BDC’s training program, a three-to-six-month full-time program for dancers of all levels.

While I’m happy to be back in Kalamazoo, I do miss the studio (and the city) very, very much. Thank you, BDC, for a wonderful ten weeks–and for inspiring me to dance!

-Lauren Landman ‘18