University News

Networking event JanLab draws double the students

Alums return to campus to share career advice, network with students in industry-specific panels

University News Editor
Monday, January 26, 2015

Around 350 students on the hunt for summer internships and jobs after graduation attended January Career Laboratory or JanLab, marking twice the number of attendees as last year, said Amy Tarbox, a JanLab organizer and career advisor at CareerLAB. In a departure from last year, CareerLAB held the student-alum networking event during the first weekend of the spring semester rather than over winter break.

“It was really important to us to make sure that more students could participate in these important meetings with alums and get a chance to learn more about career fields at a time when they aren’t really thinking about classes quite yet but don’t have to come back early and shorten their breaks,” Tarbox said.

“We just tried to make really diverse panels of people at different stages of their careers,” she added. “We wanted to be really inclusive so that the whole Brown community was feeling represented.”

The program of events kicked off Friday afternoon with registration for Saturday’s small group discussions and a talk by Yin Lu, head of international growth at Khan Academy, about the benefits of social networking. The official welcome ceremony Friday evening featured a networking dinner with alums and remarks by Dean of the College Maud Mandel and Vice President for Alumni Relations Todd Andrews ’83.

The Saturday schedule included four panels centered on the themes of media and communications, environment and sustainability, business sectors and public health.

Several students told The Herald they appreciated the seminar on media, regardless of whether their concentration or plans after graduation directly relate to media.

Panelists discussed how students should prepare to enter the media and communications field, “as well as their own personal endeavors as Brown graduates and their path towards their current positions,” said Devika Seeraj ’16, who usually attends corporate-themed CareerLAB events but wanted “to be exposed to different industries.”

The alumni speakers also discussed their unique hiring habits, she added. “One panelist mentioned that he follows people on Twitter before he even hires them just to see how they write, how they interact, are they mean to people, are they funny with their tweets, to get an insight into their personality.”

Jose Rocha Rocha ’18 said he enjoyed that the speakers hailed from a variety of subsets of the media industry. “The people that they brought are from very different backgrounds and different generations and classes … and they all end up working in the journalism industry,” he said. “The most remarkable thing was they confirmed that there is no defined path to get into the industry.”

Looking to go into the field, Maria Paz Almenara ’16 found the practical advice useful. “It gives you an idea of how much of a presence you need to have in various outlets so that your work gets noticed,” she said.

Panelist Jonathan Ebinger ’84 P’16, media educator at George Washington University, said he saw the forum as an effective way of contributing to the Brown community. JanLab creates an environment in which “you’re not being judged for your questions, for your participation, your engagement or your lack thereof,” he said.

Panelist Marcy Lefkovitz ’85, vice president of technology and workflow strategy at ABC Television, said the panels provided the types of extracurricular events that make college so valuable. “We benefited from opportunities when we were here,” she said. “That takes people to give on the other end to create those experiences.”

“It makes me really happy that there are people still really passionate about media and storytelling,” said Sachi Fujimori ’00, another panelist and a health and science writer at the Skin Cancer Foundation. “I wish I thought about this earlier when I was younger. … It’s never too early to start to think about how you want to apply what you’re learning here into your life.”

During the panel Saturday morning, several small groups comprising one alum and five preregistered students convened for discussions. That afternoon, the alums in the groups spoke on panels on entertainment, science, start-ups and social enterprise and public policy while other groups convened with the morning’s panelists.

Students who attended the public policy forum found it encouraging to engage with the panelists.

Tori Sasaki ’16 said the speakers reassured her that “you don’t have to know exactly what you want to do right now.”

“It’s always good to listen to people’s points of view who have been there, done that — who have navigated the postgraduate world,” she added.

“It is a labor of love to meet with, talk to, encourage and learn from Brown students who are among the most extraordinary people in my life,” said panelist Shelley Fidler ’68 P’09, chair of the Women’s Leadership Council at Brown and principal of government affairs and energy and environmental policy at Van Ness Feldman.

Kate Tsunoda ’08, another panelist, said she sees the importance of alumni connections in her own career trajectory. “From my personal experience, every opportunity that I’ve had after Brown I can trace back to Brown,” she said. “I want to make sure that students here who are facing a hard economy, a challenging course load and all the other things on their plate understand that there are alumni outside of Brown who know what they’re going through and want to be available for them.”

The event concluded with a reception featuring incoming CareerLAB director Matt Donato, who is set to begin his duties March 23. “These are relationships — you are building relationships,” he said in his closing speech. “These are people you are talking to, so treat them like people, and make sure that you keep these relationships strong.”

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  1. JanLab participant says:

    Why is almost half of this article just about the media panel?…

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