Clark students who are preparing for the job and internship search received industry insights and advice from a wide array of professionals during the Career Connections Center’s annual Life After Clark conference this month.
The event, held Feb. 1 to 4, featured alumni panelists and other industry experts who hosted a variety of practical, how-to workshops, thought-provoking discussions, and networking opportunities to help students develop clear career goals and identify the resources to achieve them. More than 120 juniors and seniors attended the conference, which took place virtually for the first time this year.
“We had a great turnout, and both students and alumni reported many interesting, welcoming, helpful conversations,” says Michelle Flint, director of career development. “Through these conversations, students can explore careers and industries, glean ‘lessons learned’ from alumni experiences, and potentially get important leads on jobs and internships. Perhaps most importantly, these networking conversations are often the start of long-term professional relationships that benefit both people for years to come.”
Flint added that this year’s virtual format had several advantages, including allowing Clark to host alumni and other speakers who may not have been able to come to Worcester in person, as well as the ability to offer three keynotes rather than one. The online events were also spread out over four days, allowing students to potentially attend every workshop and presentation, if they chose.
Keynote speakers at Life After Clark included Mary Owens ’86, senior director of retail communications for CVS Health and president of the Clark Alumni Council, who spoke about liberal arts as a competitive advantage; executive and career development coach Abby Locke, MBA ’98, who discussed personal branding for the online job search; and Dan Beaudry, author of “Power Ties: The International Student’s Guide to Finding a Job in the United States,” who spoke about job-search strategies for international students.
The conference also included various workshops hosted by alumni, CCC staff, and other professionals on topics ranging from managing finances after graduation to making a living in the arts.
Alexis Griswold ’17, associate account manager at Pearl Meyer, joined Erica Beachy, director of wellness education at Clark, and Elizabeth Gittens and Rosie Gallant of the Career Connections Center in a panel discussion on strategies to manage job-search anxiety and burnout.
“I participated in the session to share my experiences as a former first-generation college student transitioning from college into the workforce,” Griswold says. “I let students know that I dealt with imposter syndrome pretty heavily when I first started working, but now can recognize the signs and adjust accordingly. I recognize that it’s okay to not know everything in the workplace, especially at your first job. Taking the opportunity to ask questions and grow is more important than pretending to know it all.”
Beachy welcomed the opportunity to collaborate with Griswold and CCC staff to help launch students into their chosen fields and provide them with some extra support along the way. She says burnout and imposter syndrome — the feeling that you are unqualified for your position — can impede the job search process.
“It was important for me to communicate to students that those concepts are quite common to experience and to teach them how to recognize when they might be affected by them,” she says. “I also shared tips for managing their well-being during their job search.”
Luis Santos ’21, an English major and history minor, attended Life After Clark with to learn how to better manage his finances. He enjoyed participating in “Smart Finances After College,” a workshop hosted by Stephanie Pierre-Louis, senior vice president of Bank of America Merrill Lynch, which provided guidance on managing student loans, developing a personal budget after graduation, and building credit.
“As a college student listed as a dependent, I still have so much to learn about budgeting,” Santos says. “Stephanie Pierre-Louis was amazing and beyond knowledgeable.”
The conference featured numerous networking opportunities including the Alumni Council/GOLD Council Networking Event, where students met successful alumni who were eager to talk about their professions and share advice for those starting the job search.
“I’m so glad I went because the Clarkies I spoke with were genuinely kind and approachable,” says Jack Hebb ’20. “This was the most low-pressure setting for a networking event that you could possibly find yourself in. It was well worth the time.”
Through ClarkCONNECT, students can meet Clark alumni who not only share industry expertise and career-preparation advice, but also provide internship and employment opportunities. #clarkconnectsyou