University News

Third annual JanLab program connects U. students with alums

CareerLAB event focuses on “demystifying” professional skills and job search process

By
Senior Staff Writer
Friday, January 24, 2014

The CareerLAB brought together approximately 60 alums and 138 students for this year’s JanLab event. The program is increasingly gearing toward younger students, with thirty-five first-years in attendance this year.

Undergraduate students congregated for a series of panels and networking opportunities with Brown alums last week at the third annual January Career Laboratory, or JanLab, hosted by the Center for Careers and Life After Brown.

About 60 alums and 138 students attended this year’s event, which ran Jan. 16 to 18, said Andrew Simmons, CareerLAB director. The numbers constitute a decrease from last year, when 85 alums and 150 students attended, The Herald reported at the time.

This year’s program was similar to those of previous years, but JanLab is increasingly gearing toward younger students, Simmons said. Thirty-five first-years, 60 sophomores, 24 juniors and 19 seniors attended the program last week, he added.

The event focused on “demystifying” networking skills and opportunities, Simmons said.

JanLab was an opportunity to gain “focused career education at a time when you don’t have to go to class, or have other commitments,” Simmons said. “We think it’s valuable especially for students who could go in a lot different directions.”

He said many students and alums reported they plan to maintain connections they forged at JanLab.

In a change from previous years, the CareerLAB set up events scheduled to run simultaneously with alum panels. These workshops offered an opportunity for attendees to learn skills such as building LinkedIn profiles, he said.

The CareerLAB once again extended its online application deadline in order to accommodate those who might not have heard of the event in time, said Amy Tarbox, career adviser and coordinator for career fields in business, finance and consulting.

JanLab featured a new phone application called Guidebook this year to help participants navigate the event. “We wanted to cut down on the amount of paper and materials,” Tarbox said, adding that the app was also useful for spreading updated information instantly. Participants could refer to the app for schedules, speaker biographies and links to tip sheets, she said.

 

Students’ perspectives

JanLab’s workshops and panels provided students an opportunity to learn more about professional life.

But the absence of professional diversity on alum panels frustrated Miranda Olson ’17, an electrical engineering concentrator, who said she was disappointed by the lack of focus on her academic interest.

Sarah-Eve Dill ’16 said she attended JanLab to hear about opportunities that would allow her to teach abroad. As a student interested in international development and education, Dill said the alums at the event lacked international backgrounds.

“There weren’t many good resources for me,” she said. “They should make a better effort to bring people who work internationally.”

But Dill also said she found the program helpful because she was able to develop professional skills and utilize networking opportunities.

Interested in fields such as marketing, human resources and law, Asia Nelson ’15 said she enjoyed JanLab because of the wide spread of information available at the panels. “Whatever you’re interested in, you can find some sort of panel to attend,” she said.

“There were people who were recent grads and people who were a little further out,” Nelson said, adding that she valued the different perspectives presented.

Nelson said she also appreciated the individual time that she was able to spend with alums after the panels.

 

‘The job search from employers’ eyes’

About 40 students attended the panel that highlighted Derek Aframe ’96, who works in sports and entertainment marketing.

Aframe said JanLab catered to students from various backgrounds with diverse interests. “What’s always been great about Brown is it’s a place for exploration and self-discovery,” he said.

Melanie Friedrichs ’12, who graduated with a degree in economics and is currently working for a technology company called Andera, spoke on an entrepreneurship and startups panel.

The panels could not cover certain aspects of the job application process and the working world properly, because “there are some things you can never really understand” before starting as a professional, Friedrichs said. But JanLab is useful to help students “see the job search from employers’ eyes,” she added.

She said the CareerLAB could improve the event by reaching out to a wider range of students with one-day events during the year.

Jonathan Ebinger ’84, who concentrated in history during his time at Brown, participated in a panel about media and journalism. As an adjunct lecturer in journalism at George Washington University, Ebinger said he found JanLab useful for “narrowing the gap” between alums in the professional world and undergraduate students.

Networking events provided students with “anecdotal stories that go beyond the data they are familiar with,” Ebinger said.