Students gain valuable career networking experience in Philadelphia

More than ever before, finding a job involves networking with professionals in a particular field or position. About 100 Gettysburg College students did just that over the winter break by making valuable career connections with alumni and parents of the College through programs offered by the Center for Career Development.

One program, Bright Lights! Big City!, is a three-day career networking program that introduces Gettysburg College students to successful alumni and parents in a particular metropolitan area. This month, 23 students visited Philadelphia to learn about opportunities in the sciences including biological, chemical, physical, environmental, and medical. Through panel discussions, roundtable discussions, site visits, and an interactive case study, students met and learned from more than 25 alumni.

"Networking is a crucial skill for effective job searching, especially in a tight job market," said Katy Mattson, associate director at the Center for Career Development who co-led the students in Philadelphia. "While students understand the necessity, it is often a new experience and can be particularly daunting, when contacting people they've never met before. Participating in our programming is a great way for students to master the art of networking and see firsthand the benefit of the Gettysburg College network."

Site visits in Philadelphia included Integral Molecular, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals, Princeton Energy Systems, and the Wistar Institute Cancer Center. The group also visited graduated schools including the University of Pennsylvania and Thomas Jefferson University.

"I really enjoyed the program in Philadelphia. I was surprised to learn how willing alumni are to help future Gettysburg alums," said Lauren Schmidt, a member of the Class of 2010 who is majoring in biology and minoring in chemistry.

Bright Lights! Big City! has been running for five years and has also taken students to Boston, New York, and Washington, D.C. Trips have explored careers in the sciences, arts, arts management, non-profits, public service, Wall Street, food, fashion, event planning, and advertising.

A schedule and list of professionals and workplaces for the Philadelphia visit is available.

Other career networking programs such as job shadowing lets students experience the reality of their hosts' professions. This year's opportunities connected 38 students to alumni and parent hosts at 22 sites throughout the country.

Another program, "Dinner with Strangers," brings parents and alumni together with students at a home or restaurant. Students hear about their hosts' careers, learn about socializing and dining in a professional context, and develop their networks. The hosts hear firsthand about the latest developments on campus. The program connected some 39 students with 13 hosts.

To get involved, contact the Center for Career Development.

Contact: Kendra Martin, director of media relations

Founded in 1832, Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences with a strong academic tradition. Alumni include Rhodes Scholars, a Nobel laureate, and other distinguished scholars. The college enrolls 2,600 undergraduate students and is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.

Posted: Mon, 11 Jan 2010

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