Seniors Face the Real World

Deborah Charney

Most students would probably like to think that we’ll all be here forever, in a “Colgate bubble” filled with cozy afternoons by the Coop fireplace and munching Slices on the weekend. However, four short years is all we get until we must leave Hamilton, New York, and head out into the “real world.” Luckily, the Center for Leadership and Student Involvement (CLSI), Office of Career Services and Office of Alumni Affairs put together an annual event where students are informed of the opportunities that await them.

The senior class is assured, during this event, that life after Colgate can, and will, be a future filled with success. This event is called Real World, and the 2006 program was held on campus last weekend.

Real World began on Thursday, January 19, with a senior class party at Nichols and Beal. As much as the Real World program is aimed at helping Colgate students become aware of their futures, it is also a chance to bring the senior class together as they approach the end of their college careers.

“The senior night at Nichols and Beal on Thursday and other social activities, it gives seniors a chance to bond as a class as we begin our final semester,” senior Erin Grundy said.

The career-driven aspects of Real World began on Friday for the 406 seniors that participated in the program. The program kicked off with a welcome lunch at the Edge Caf?e, including remarks from President Rebecca Chopp and keynote addresses by Gloria Borger ’74, Political Correspondent CBS/US News & World Report Columnist and Lance Morgan ’72, President – Powell Tate/Weber Shandwick, Washington, DC. After receiving a warm welcome from Colgate’s administration and alumni, the seniors had the opportunity to attend two of 10 Real World Issues Panels offered. These panels were aimed at students with varying levels of preparedness for life after Colgate. There was everything from “Graduate School Preview: Ph.D./M.D.” to a panel entitled “I Still Don’t Know What I Want To Do!” “Benefits and Budgets” was a practical panel that gave students “an idea of how they should be saving right after college to prepare themselves for financial prosperity,” Grundy remarked.

Following the panels, there were mock interviews and appointments for one-on-one advice sessions with alumni from various fields. This gave seniors a chance to ask specific questions about the job search process, graduate school opportunities, writing effective r?esum?es and job interviews. Another opportunity for making individual connections with alumni was Friday night’s networking reception at the O’Connor Campus Center (Coop). This reception gave students the chance to not only ask specific career questions to alumni, but also discuss ways to stay involved with the Colgate community after graduation.

Junior Class President Alexis Hernandez, who attended Real World as part of a committee that helped organize and run the event, commented that meeting alumni established “connections that I plan to follow through on and hopefully, establish excellent relationships. Also, alumni, two in particular, advised me on the personal characteristics and method of behaving at networking events and interviews.”

Senior Lauren Mondrone also felt that this portion of the program was particularly valuable to her.

“The most helpful experience during the program was the mock interview I had,” Mondrone said. “It was really beneficial to have one-on-one time with an accomplished alumnus, even if they weren’t in my field of interest, and get personal feedback on my resume and my interview skills. It definitely boosted my confidence for real interviews to come.”

The panels on Saturday, January 20, held a stronger focus on specific careers. The panels throughout the afternoon were on such topics as “Retail and Fashion Merchandising,” “Financial Alternatives: Options Beyond Wall Street,” “Publishing and Broadcast Media” and “Government/Public Policy.” There were 16 career field panels in all, ranging from sales to medicine to art. In other words, there was something for everyone. These panels gave students a chance to hear from alumni in more similar fields of interest than those that they spoke with on Friday.

“The alumni were so enthusiastic and excited about having fellow Colgate grads go into similar fields,” Mondrone said, who attended the panel discussion on education. Following these panels, Real World 2006 concluded with another round of mock interviews, alumni advice sessions and a senior class reception at the Seven Oaks Clubhouse.

In addition to the many members of the senior class to whom Real World provides career insight, eight underclassmen were present at the event as helpers, and managed to receive some alumni advice of their own. Though it was seniors Sian-Pierre Regis, Stefanie Telvi, Bob Fenity, Erin Grundy, Caitlin Lyons, Nick Brown and J.K. Karaivanov of the Senior Class Council who had been planning this event since the summer and worked closely with the campus organizations involved to make Real World 2006 a success, they were assisted by the Student Leadership Team, which consisted of eight underclassmen. Juniors William Chan and Alexis Hernandez, sophomores Taylor Buonocore, Jenny Dorland, Samantha Feldman and Erin Senker, and first-years Jaleith Gary and Kate Hollerbush “assisted the senior class council members with packet stuffing, registration and a variety of logistical pieces over the weekend,” Catherine Regan of the Office of Career Services said.

Sophomores Samantha Feldman and Taylor Buonocore felt that helping with Real World and getting the opportunity to attend was a beneficial experience as underclassmen. “Being there as an underclassman and sitting in on all of the panels makes you less scared of the real world and it seems to fill in what would be a missing step between college and a professional career,” Samantha said, who attended panels on non-profit organizations, advertising and marketing.

“It was really eye-opening to see the seniors thinking about what they’re going to do when they leave Colgate,” commented Buonocore. “It made me much more excited for the semester and really thankful that we have two years left!”

“As a first year, I was really excited to be involved with such a great program and given the same opportunities in terms of networking that the seniors had,” first-year Kate Hollerbush said, “While Wednesday was rather tedious and I have my fair share of paper cuts from filling 500 folders with all of the necessary information on the weekend’s events, getting the home phone number of the director for ABC Sports was certainly worth it!”

Sophomore Jenny Dorland also found the experience worthwhile, commenting that “the alums were very interesting and helpful with arbitrary advice and just general information. They provided new perspectives and were very friendly and happy to be back on campus. There was a wide range of class years from someone who graduated thirty years ago or more to [someone who graduated] last year.”

The annual Real World program has once again proved to be a success. Seniors received immeasurable amounts of guidance from Colgate alumni and have gained the confidence to enter their final undergraduate semester with a positive outlook on the future. Though it’s bittersweet that the class of 2006 has only one more semester left in the “Colgate bubble,” Real World has helped them gain valuable insights and connections as they plan for life after Colgate.