K Student’s Dedication Leads to Behind-the-Scenes Work at the Olympics

Uyen Trinh Next to the Olympics Rings
Uyen Trinh ’21 stands next to the Olympic Rings in Tokyo.

It takes dedication, perseverance and determination for the world’s best athletes to reach the Olympics, just as it did for Uyen Trinh ’21 to be a part of the behind-the-scenes efforts at the Summer Games in Tokyo. She was there to gain global career experience while working as an accountant in the Finance Department of Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS). 

OBS was established through the International Olympic Committee in 2001 to produce live television, radio and digital coverage of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Organizations such as the New York Times and NBC set up, along with OBS, at Tokyo Big Sight, an international exhibition center composed of the International Broadcast Center and the Main Press Center as the Games began. 

Uyen Trinh at the Olympics
Uyen Trinh ’21 poses in front of Tokyo Big Sight, the international
exhibition center where she worked to support the Olympics behind the scenes.

Trinh, an international student from Vietnam majoring in business and psychology with a minor in Japanese at K, played important roles processing paperwork, receipts, documents and bills for the Olympic Games while stationed in the International Broadcasting Center. A typical six-day workweek involved a one-hour commute on the subway, a trip through security and working from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day with the Olympics, lasting about a month. 

Trinh gained the opportunity while studying abroad through K at Waseda University in Tokyo in 2019. At that time, a friend from the university’s Tae Kwon Do club told her about training for a position at the Olympics.  

“After Tae Kwon Do practice that night, I looked up OBS right away because it sounded like a fascinating opportunity,” Trinh said. “I found out the application deadline was a day or two later, so I filled out and submitted the application right away in one sitting.”

Uyen Trinh at the Finance Department for the Olympics
Uyen Trinh ’21 poses for a photo outside the Olympic Broadcasting Services
Finance Department where she worked during the Games.

Trinh then proceeded to interview for the accounting position.

“In the interviews, I told them I wanted to work for the Olympics because watching the Games has always given me unforgettable feelings,” she said. “And the Japanese people had been treating me really well. I thought Tokyo 2020 was a great opportunity to present Japan to the world. It was a chance for me to return the favor of their kindness and help deliver a positive image of Japan.” 

Her interest in accounting made the impression she left with her interviewers even more favorable. 

“I said that I wanted to do accounting because I’d been keeping track of my personal expenses and it really excited me to see numbers matching up,” Trinh said. “A week later I got a certificate saying I was qualified to work for the Olympics.” 

However, in March 2020, COVID-19 began spreading, forcing Trinh to leave Japan and putting the Games in doubt.

“I still kept a close eye on the Olympics and was disheartened when they decided to postpone the Games. I questioned my chances of coming back,” Trinh said. “September 2020 was the first time I heard back from them. They asked, ‘Are you still interested in working for the Olympics?’ I thought, ‘What do you mean? This is everything I have been waiting for.’ All the logistics afterward in preparation for my departure to Japan were completed via email and the OBS portal website. I received their welcome package in February 2021 with an accreditation card, which served as my visa to enter Japan. There were a lot of requirements regarding COVID that made the week before the flight especially stressful.” 

Upon her return to Japan, COVID-19 regulations required her to quarantine at a hotel for the first 14 days. She was restricted to commuting only between the hotel, OBS and a convenience store next to the hotel. After those weeks, a former host family from her time on study abroad welcomed her to stay with them.  

“I learned to treasure every relationship I had with people. You never know what kind of opportunity anyone could bring to you and what your relationship could grow to be. Most of my colleagues were from countries other than Japan like Spain, Bangladesh and Greece. It’s just wonderful to think that working for the Olympics has enabled people from all over the world to meet and get to know each other regardless of the pandemic. Returning to Japan this time also made me realize how many meaningful relationships I have made during only six months of study abroad. This whole adventure was terrific and I’m so glad I was able to make it. Different from the abrupt departure last time because of COVID, I left Japan this time in peace and with more confidence in myself. This valuable experience will set the stage for my career in finance after K.”

Senior Week Readies Graduates-to-Be for Jobs

Senior Week
The Center for Career and Professional Development is helping seniors concerned about preparing for and facing the job market during a pandemic. Senior Week will offer one-on-one meetings between students and alumni, career coaching and more.

When Kalamazoo College students talk about what they need from their education and career preparedness, they can bet the Center for Career and Professional Development is listening.

The CCPD staff proved that this spring when seniors spoke publicly about the worries they have for life after K in the pandemic’s wake, and in response, the CCPD unveiled plans for Senior Week, May 17-21.

The biggest highlight of the week will come from seniors meeting one-on-one in career-building sessions with K alumni. About 60 alumni already have agreed to participate in these Hornet Huddles from a variety of industries and fields, and more are expected.

Seniors can sign up now through Handshake with this how-to video as guidance. A list of the alumni volunteering is available with their companies and organizations, industries and job titles. The goal is to provide seniors new perspectives of how to reach success in the job market from alumni successful in similar fields. Some of the alumni are looking to specifically help students of color or first-generation students. Others are open to meeting with any senior. Registration will be available through May 14.

In addition, seniors also can expect guidance from career coaches, senior spotlights through social media and a push for students to respond to their first-destination surveys, which will help the CCPD guide seniors still looking for their first post-graduation jobs.

Guidance from career coaches

Career coaches are available to seniors year-round. During senior week, they’re available exclusively to seniors. Coaches can help students take career assessments, choose from employment or graduate school options and improve resumes, cover letters, and personal statements. Available appointments are plentiful and drop-in hours will be available from noon to 1 p.m. daily through Teams.

First-destination survey push

When seniors complete the survey in spring, it tells CCPD staff what those still looking for their first post-graduation jobs need and how the CCPD can help. Staff have committed to follow up with every senior still looking, and they’re offering a drawing for 10 $25 GrubHub gift cards for those who respond by May 21.

Senior spotlights

The CCPD’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube channels will feature content during Senior Week that is specifically geared toward seniors.

For more information on Senior Week and the assistance available, visit the CCPD website.

Alumni Want to Help Students Network, Launch Careers

K to the Pacific Northwest image advertises careers event
Six alumni, representing a variety of Kalamazoo College majors and diverse professions, will represent Starbucks, Microsoft, HealthSparq, Payscale, Hulu and Intellectual Ventures, while networking with students to help them build their careers from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Thursday, March 4, during K to the Pacific Northwest.

A group of Kalamazoo College alumni is calling upon itself to help students overcome pandemic-prompted challenges so they can build their networks and launch their careers.

“One of the beautiful aspects of K is that we have such a rich cadre of alums who want to engage with students related to their career preparation,” Center for Career and Professional Development Director Tricia Zelaya-Leon said. “It’s a good challenge to have when there’s so much excitement and enthusiasm from alumni that they come to me and ask how they can help.”

For this particular group of alumni, the answer is coming through K-Treks, the career-immersion experiences that typically allow students to visit alumni and explore interesting professions around the country. With K-Treks temporarily being virtual, cost is not a factor in determining how many students can attend. It also allows more alumni representing a greater variety of majors and business fields to connect with students, revealing more pathways to finding their passions and their jobs.

The additional alumni are allowing the CCPD to expand Thursday’s virtual K-Treks, originally planned as K to Starbucks, to K to the Pacific Northwest (K2PNW). Six alumni, representing a variety of K majors and diverse professions, will represent not only Starbucks, but also Microsoft, HealthSparq, Payscale, Hulu and Intellectual Ventures, while networking with students on March 4 from 5:30 to 7 p.m.

“I don’t want students to think that their major doesn’t matter. However, it is just one piece of the puzzle.” Zelaya-Leon said. “A major is really about helping students find a passion they’re interested in and not just a measure that will lead them to career success. The beauty of the alumni that we have attending this virtual K-Trek series is that many of them had more than one major or the work they do now is very different from what you might expect someone with that major to do.”

The alumni panelists and their majors and careers include:

All students are welcome to participate by registering at any time before the event through Handshake. Students who attend will receive the contact information for the alumni participants.

“I keep thinking about the senior year for the classes of 2020 and 2021, and how unexpected their experiences have been for them,” Zelaya-Leon said. “This isn’t the way they thought it was going to go, and I feel for them. These K-Treks are open to all students, but they’re especially for the seniors. I hope they’ll continue to come see us for help after these events are over.”

Amazon, K Students to Network in Career Development Event

Pacific Northwest Scenery Near Amazon Facilities
Several Kalamazoo College alumni work at Amazon in roles such as marketing, human resources and business development. K students will have a chance to network with them Thursday, February 11.

K to the Pacific Northwest, a series of K-Treks helping students network virtually with alumni at global companies, is continuing from 7:30 to 9 p.m. Thursday with K to Amazon.

Offered through the Center for Career and Professional Development (CCPD), K-Treks are traditionally career-immersion experiences in which students travel to explore jobs of interest. With virtual experiences this term, all students are invited to participate regardless of their major.

Several K alumni work at Amazon in roles such as marketing, human resources and business development at facilities such as the Amazon Spheres. Some of those alumni were recently featured in LuxEsto, the College’s digital magazine.

“We tell students that the best path to landing a job or an internship is through one’s network,.” CCPD Assistant Director for External Relations Valerie Miller said. “Recruiters might sift through hundreds of resumes for a single job posting, but someone in your network can open doors to unknown companies and opportunities. Even virtually, you can’t beat an opportunity to meet K alumni and expand your network.”

Amazon focuses on e-commerce, cloud computing, digital streaming and artificial intelligence, and is one of the world’s most valuable global brands. Students may register for K to Amazon, co-sponsored by the Marketing and Investment Club, through Handshake at any time before the event. While at Handshake, students may also register for K to Starbucks, slated for March 4.

Learn more about this term’s K-Treks at the CCPD website.

K Students to Connect with Nike, More Global Companies

K to Nike graphic with a view of the Pacific Northwest
K to the Pacific Northwest, a virtual series of K-Treks this term, will begin with K to Nike from 3 to 4:30 p.m. this Thursday. All students are welcome to register through Handshake to network with alumni and get to know what it takes to succeed at a global company.

More students than usual will have a chance to participate in three K-Treks this term that will help them network with Kalamazoo College alumni and get to know what it takes to work at global companies such as Nike, Amazon and Starbucks.

K-Treks, offered through the Center for Career and Professional Development (CCPD), are traditionally career-immersion experiences in which students travel to explore jobs of interest. With virtual experiences this term, cost is not a factor in determining how many students can attend. A more expansive group can be included with all benefiting from enriching opportunities to make meaningful professional connections and get a feel for professional life at a specific business.

The events, collectively called K to the Pacific Northwest this term, begin with K to Nike from 3 to 4:30 p.m. this Thursday. K to Amazon, scheduled for 7:30 to 9 p.m. Thursday, February 11; and K to Starbucks, slated for Thursday, March 4, also are available.

“We tell students that the best path to landing a job or an internship is through one’s network.” CCPD Assistant Director for External Relations Valerie Miller said. “Recruiters might sift through hundreds of resumes for a single job posting, but someone in your network can open doors to unknown companies and opportunities. Even virtually, you can’t beat an opportunity to meet K alumni and expand your network.”

Students may sign up for any or all three of the experiences through Handshake at any time before that event begins. The Kalamazoo College Sport Business Club inspired K to Nike, although any student, regardless of their major, would benefit from attending. K to Nike, for example, will feature five alumni, none of whom majored in business. They are:

  • Christina Dennaoui ’06, a Service and Experience Design department employee, who majored in religion at K;
  • Peter Erdahl ’13, a political science major who works with apparel products;
  • Tobin Ernst ’02, a history major involved in risk management;
  • Tieneke van Lonkhuyzen ’06, a political science major, who represents sustainability;
  • Karl Wasmuth ’09, a political science major, who works in government and public affairs.

“Students will learn about the career paths of these successful alumni, what they like about they do, and how they use what they learned at K in their work,” Miller said. “After a panel event with all alumni, students can drop into a breakout session with one of the alums to go deeper and learn about specific career paths.”

Many might think of shoes when they hear the name Nike because the company grew with its founders— including then-University of Oregon track and field coach Bill Bowerman and one of his former students, Phil Knight — when they signed Steve Prefontaine, a young Olympic distance runner, to a footwear-endorsement deal in 1972. Yet the company’s story is much more of a marathon than a sprint as today, nearly 50 years later, it seeks to bring innovation to every athlete through apparel, equipment, accessories and services available for any sport.

“Nike has a unique culture, and they have the most amazing campus,” Miller said. “It’s filled with every sport imaginable. I don’t know many employers that have a swimming pool, basketball courts, athletic fields, running trails and more. In fact, Nike was named one of the happiest companies to work for in 2018. K to Nike is a rare opportunity for a student to learn how to say, ‘hey, look at me,’ to a Nike recruiter.”

Learn more about this term’s K-Treks at the CCPD website.

CCPD Internships Ease Study Abroad’s Pause

Stella Young CCPD internships
Stella Young ’22 was one of five juniors to earn internships this fall through the Center for Career and Professional Development as study abroad was put on hold.

Stella Young, a junior political science major, was just one of the Kalamazoo College students who had planned to study abroad during the 2020-21 academic year. When the pandemic threw a wrench into those plans, she was disappointed.

“Study abroad was one of my deciding factors in coming to K,” she said. “I was supposed to go to Madrid for six months.”

Regardless, K’s Center for Career and Professional Development, along with faculty and staff from around campus, provided a thoughtful alternative. Collectively, they developed a series of internships for 20 juniors, including five who worked through CCPD Assistant Director for External Relations Valerie Miller, giving them practical career experience in addition to a credit-granting class.

“I think the students had phenomenal experiences typical of internships,” Miller said. “They didn’t know what to expect and they had some doubts going in. Then they developed some skills and started to understand the work environment better. By the end, each one of them seemed to feel pretty confident about what they accomplished.”

Alumni Connections Critical

According to Miller, alumni were key in setting up the internships her cohort of students wanted. Young, for example, worked with Rock the Vote, a nonpartisan and nonprofit organization that encourages young adults to participate in the election process, which is led by Carolyn DeWitt ’04.

“I wanted to go on study abroad to meet new people and make new connections,” Young said. “I think I did that with this program.”

Young became a valuable asset to her 15 internship colleagues from across the country as she worked on several projects, including one that helped Iowa voters understand issues and where candidates stood on them in Senate races.

“I hopped on projects as staff members needed help,” she said. “I did a lot of research and data entry leading up to the election, and after, I worked with voters who had questions about results. I knew going into this I wanted to work with a nonprofit and this was an opportunity to put what I’ve been learning in the classroom into action. I hope to stay involved as a volunteer because they’re doing really important work.”

Navigating Health Care

Aramide Apo-Oyin ’22, however, independently found her internship serving heart-failure patients through Aurora Advocate Health in Chicago, via a nonprofit patient-support program offered through its hospital.

“The program is basically a volunteer initiative that helps patients and their families navigate the health care system,” she said, adding she commonly helped patients schedule follow-up care, understand their dietary needs and seek the exercise and activity they needed. “It provides them with the literacy they need, and helps navigate any barriers to their care.”

Apo-Oyin noted the program didn’t necessarily have a specific target audience, but it’s easy to spot trends in the health care system when working with people from many backgrounds.

“So even though we don’t say we’re only helping people who have the fewest resources, we often find they’re the people who need our help the most due to language barriers with their care team in the hospital, being uninsured and not knowing how to enroll into government assistance programs like Medicaid or Medicare, and not having a support system at home to help with transportation to appointments and overall support.”

As a result, the transition support program Apo-Oyin represented commonly assisted people without insurance or those who needed more support than just immediate care.

“We have connections and the relationships that can really help us to assist the communities that need our help. This program is about helping the patients heal and live with their diagnosis. I feel like that happens with more than just the medicine and the procedures doctors do. That’s our role and that’s why I chose to go into it.”

A Happy Ending

In moving forward, both students credited the campus partners for creating programs that tied well with their career goals while developing experiences that made their fall term valuable despite the absence of study abroad.

“I definitely want to use these services more in the future,” Young said of Miller and the CCPD. “She was great in finding a position that I really wanted. I would definitely recommend that people go to the CCPD when they want some off-campus experience—it helped broaden our horizons.”CCP

Environmental Internships Fill in for Study Abroad

Environmental Internships
Natalie Barber ’22 was among the 20 juniors who missed out on study abroad this fall because of the pandemic. Instead, she worked in one of the environmental internships made available at the Kalamazoo River Watershed Council. In that position, she researched fresh water mussels like these.

Without study abroad available this year, Kalamazoo College faculty and staff got creative and developed a series of internships for 20 juniors who otherwise would’ve spent a term overseas, giving them experience through campus partners such as the Center for International Programs, Center for Career and Professional Development and the Center for Civic Engagement.

An additional group of students, whose interests could be connected with environmental opportunities, worked with the Center for Environmental Stewardship and Director Sara Stockwood.

“I think it’s been a valuable experience for everyone, even if they didn’t go on study abroad,” Stockwood said of the students who worked for organizations such as the Kalamazoo Watershed Council, the Michigan Lakes and Streams Association and Sarett Nature Center.

Michigan Lakes and Streams Association
The Michigan Lakes and Streams Association was one of three local organizations that helped four Kalamazoo College students earn environmental internships this fall.

“The students I’ve talked to said they’ve wanted to get an internship before, they just weren’t sure how to make it fit in their academic plan,” she said. “But when this class came up it fit well and it matched their class schedule. It was a challenge for them to figure out how to work virtually, and some of them felt a little lost at first, yet they gained the skills they needed to figure it out. I think that will help them in their classes and future jobs, especially if they have virtual components.”

Amanda Dow, a biology major, worked with Melissa DeSimone, the executive director of the Michigan Lakes and Streams Association (MLSA), which is a statewide nonprofit that unites individuals; lake, stream and watershed associations; organizations; and corporations that share an interest the preserving inland lakes and streams for generations to come. Her work experience included writing newsletter articles highlighting the organization’s virtual convention this year, contributing to its printed articles, and reformatting and updating several brochures.

“I have a background in writing so this was a good chance for me to practice in different mediums,” Dow said. “I wrote a review of the convention sessions along with a biography of myself for the newsletter. They also come out with a newspaper and the biggest chunk of my internship went to updating and reformatting their brochures. It helped a lot that when I first got there I could choose what I wanted to do.”

Environmental Internships at Asylum Lake
Asylum Lake served as a socially-distanced meeting point for Amanda Dow ’22 and Melissa DeSimone, the executive director of the Michigan Lakes and Streams Association, as Dow served in a virtual internship.

Andrew Wright, a German and biology major, said he felt a little directionless with where he wanted to apply his majors professionally after graduation, until he interned with the Kalamazoo River Watershed Council. The organization aims to protect, preserve and promote the Kalamazoo River and its tributaries for current area residents and future generations.

“Through developing a new interactive digital dashboard with the Kalamazoo River Watershed Council members, my work will help users see the different types of chemical contaminants in the Kalamazoo area and how they affect the types of fish here,” Wright said. “Following the motto of the Watershed, we want to make that information as accessible as possible so people can learn how their communities’ ecosystems have been impacted. The Kalamazoo River has unfortunately suffered its fair share of PCB runoff from paper mills and oil spills, and we want to create ways for people to be knowledgeable and be mindful of how we affect our surrounding environments.”

Natalie Barber, a biology major and psychology minor, joined Wright in working for the Kalamazoo River Watershed Council. She researched fresh water mussels, which filter small organic particles such as bacteria and algae out of lakes and streams, naturally purifying them. Part of that environmental research involved interviewing Daelyn Woolnough, a Central Michigan University biology faculty member and freshwater mussels expert, leading to website content and social media posts for the watershed council.

Asylum Lake
Asylum Lake in Kalamazoo served as a socially-distanced meeting point for Amanda Dow ’22 and her internship supervisor this fall.

With K’s academic schedule, it was important to Barber that she could undertake the internship as a part of her term and she hopes more students at the College will have the same opportunity.

“It’s important we know the effects of global warming and climate change and how they threaten mussels,” Barber said. “We especially have those threats in Kalamazoo because we had the paper mills that put all the PCBs in the water, plus we had the 2010 oil spill. Just knowing about those bigger issues, and also the lesser-known issues like invasive species, which is a big deal to freshwater mussels. Things the general public might not realize are such a big deal like moving boats from lake to lake without cleaning them, that’s important information we should share so we can protect the organisms within our areas. I felt like I was doing something positive toward my career goals. I think these internships should be offered every term because I thought mine was that useful.”

To conclude the class and their environmental internships, each student provided a final visual presentation with screenshots and pictures from their projects. Stockwood said students each had about three minutes to present what they did, what they learned and why it matters.

“They took it very seriously and it was fun because the students didn’t fully know what everybody else was doing,” she said. “They found a lot of similarities in their experiences over time with being lost in the beginning, independently working and having some ownership by the second half of their projects. I hope something like this will continue. It’s important to recognize that it’s not study abroad, but I think the experience was valuable, and I think the students feel it was valuable, too.”

Virtual Operations Keep Career Center Open for Business

CCPD Virtual Operations
Center for Career and Professional Development staffers remain available to students during distance learning thanks to their virtual operations. The staffers pictured in a recent meeting are Assistant Director of Experiential Opportunities Richard Sylvester (clockwise from top left), Assistant Director Jacqueline Srodes, Interim Associate Director Rachel B. Wood and Interim Director Valerie Miller.

Students concerned about facing the current job market can rest assured that a plan for virtual operations will keep Kalamazoo College’s Center for Career and Professional Development open for business this spring. Those virtual operations, though, will be different from business as usual, addressing the unique challenges of seeking a job amidst a global pandemic.

“We know that most of our students are not going to be thinking about career development at this time,” Interim Director Valerie Miller said. “There are too many other issues that they are facing. How can we ask them to care about updating their résumé or practicing interview skills with all that is on their minds?”

Those issues are why the CCPD will take a Design Thinking approach to career planning this term. Design Thinking, created by Stanford University’s Plattner Institute of Design, focuses on addressing “wicked problems,” which are problems that might seem impossible to solve. Those problems might include, for example, what arises with a search during a global pandemic.

“Professors at Stanford have been offering a course called Designing Your Life for years, and recently published a book with the same title that includes many of the tools and concepts from their course,” Miller said. “We are using this book and other resources to share useful information around Design Thinking and career planning with students. This is primarily a communication strategy that seeks to provide support as well as relevant content and resources.”

With that strategy, Interim Associate Director Rachel B. Wood will send students an email framing what they can expect from the upcoming week. Plus, she will post content to the department’s Facebook and Instagram accounts each day with the themes of Monday Motivation, Tuesday Tips and Tools, Wednesday Watch and Listen, Thursday To-Dos and Friday Focus: Design Thinking.

If those messages feel comfortable and familiar to students, it might be because they promote CCPD services that continue to provide excellent employment outcomes. Those services include:

  • Career coaching. Staff provide students with guidance regarding their majors, grad school opportunities and career assessments. Appointments may be scheduled through the online tool Handshake.
  • Virtual events and workshops. Students will connect with alumni and network through Wisr, a web platform designed for higher-education institutions to promote digital communities. Speaker events, including the annual Confident at Commencement series, and a collection of new events, including virtual recruiting events, will be available.
  • Advice from alumni and local leaders. This term, that will come through a new podcast called Career-ish, hosted by Assistant Director of Experiential Opportunities Richard Sylvester, and recorded content and presentations from staff and alumni.

“Our students are facing many wicked problems as they move forward in the world, and we thought it would be useful to us and to them to provide a framework they can use to tackle these problems,” Miller said.

That framework is available to students simply by reaching out this term. Contact the CCPD through email at career@kzoo.edu.