University News

CareerCon offers students mentorship, connections

Panels, group discussions with alums allow students to practice networking skills, learn about careers

Senior Staff Writer
Monday, February 1, 2016

“Why did I come back to Brown?” Camela Logan ’07 mused during a CareerCon lunch mixer Saturday in the Faculty Lounge. She looked at the group of expectant students sitting around her and answered, “For Meeting Street cookies!”

CareerCon, formerly known as JanLAB, marks a revamp of Brown’s previous mentoring events. CareerLAB received a number of donations last year specifically intended to expand the alumni advising program.

“While the January event is still our biggest CareerCon, the money has enabled us to do mini-CareerCons over the course of the year as well,” said Matthew Donato, director of CareerLAB. The decision to rebrand JanLAB as CareerCon was made in an effort to depart from the old model of a single, large mentoring fair every January, he said.

The day-long event’s primary goal was providing students an opportunity to hone their networking skills in a variety of informal settings, Donato said. The event featured multiple panels, a free lunch and small group discussions.

Donato anticipated that the small group discussions, in which five students interacted with a single alum, would be particularly instructive for underclassmen lacking internship experience, he said, noting that some of those students might be “intimidated” or unsure “how to get started.”

This year’s iteration of CareerCon saw 34 alums represent industries such as food justice and sustainability, design and user experience, public relations and advertising and public health.

Many participating alums look forward to coming back to campus for the event every year. Logan said the event was particularly rewarding because “the next generation of students will pay it forward.”

Ora Star Boncore ’12 accepted CareerLAB’s invitation to attend CareerCon because she was excited to expose Brown students to the interdisciplinary nature of her job as a web designer. “This is a great way for younger graduates to begin to give back to the Brown community,” she said.

Minoshka Narayan ’18 used CareerCon as an opportunity to solicit advice on applying for sophomore internships, she said. She was also struck by the varied lifestyles of the finance panel speakers, noting that while some speakers spoke of travel-intensive weeks, others work from home.

A particular concern with selecting a panel of speakers was representing the diversity of jobs that alums take on, Donato said. The spotlight on unconventional careers, such as ones in food justice and sustainability, came as a response to growing student interest in these areas, he added.

CareerLAB will be sure to schedule events with student interests in mind in the future. For example, the center has plans to host a mini CareerCon on fashion later this semester, Donato said.

Logan hoped that upperclassmen would walk away from the experience with more confidence in their abilities during their job searches, she said.

“You can stay true to yourself during this process,” she said. “A job listing is a wish list, not a checklist.”