University News

Inaugural JanLab connects students and alums

By
Senior Staff Writer
Monday, January 30, 2012

Life after Brown may seem daunting, but alums who have braved this frontier returned to campus earlier this month to lend a hand to students starting their careers.

The January Career Laboratory was a three-and-a-half-day extravaganza of networking and career opportunities that ran Jan. 19–22­ — a contrast from CareerLAB’s shorter routine workshops.

And unlike most CareerLAB opportunities, JanLab ­— as the program was nicknamed­ —­ had an application process and a fee of $130. The fee was used both to defray the costs of JanLab and to ensure student commitment, though financial aid was available for students needing it, said Andrew Simmons, director of CareerLAB.

The idea for JanLab began when Corporation trustee Lauren Kolodny ’08 thought it would be helpful to connect current and former students. Other schools have similar programs, but Simmons said the Brown version was not based on any specific model. “It was engineered uniquely for Brown,” he said. “The long January break really provides the opportunity to do something significant.”

Through the efforts of CareerLAB staff, JanLab brought 150 students and 100 alums together despite the snowstorm that raged on Saturday, the busiest day of the conference. “We definitely had some (alumni) no-shows because of the snow,” Simmons said. “But other people volunteered last-minute, and it worked out fine.”

JanLab focused on teaching students about networking, career fields and ways to market themselves to potential employers. Activities included career field panels, networking in a speed dating format and a lecture on interpersonal communication by Barbara Tannenbaum, senior lecturer in theatre arts and performance studies.

Alumni participants came from a range of employers, including Facebook, Google, Goldman Sachs and the White House. Alums working in medicine, media and entertainment, the arts and activism also participated.

Students who attended the event responded positively. Aiden Schore ’15 wrote in an email to The Herald that he would “like to see more variety in the panelists” but felt even after the first day he had made some useful contacts. Atilio Barreda ’12, standing in his business casual attire — the required dress for the event — said he also felt JanLab had been a worthwhile venture.

About two-thirds of attendees were juniors and seniors, but the event was useful for all, Simmons said.

Simmons said he looks forward to JanLab becoming an annual event, helping students prepare for the transition to life after college. “It was a complex planning process, but it paid off well,” he said.