Colgate SophoMORE Connections Goes Virtual

Colgate Career Services hosted its ninth annual SophoMORE Connections virtually this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year’s virtual event, attended by 232 sophomores and 49 alumni volunteers, began with a keynote address by Jon Sendach ‘98, Executive Director of North Shore University Hospital. 

Occurring every January for sophomores, SophoMORE Connections serves to connect students with alumni working in industries in which students are interested. Serving as the bulk of the program, students had the opportunity to engage with the industry of their choice by choosing one of eight industry cohorts, each of which included three sessions. The program also featured a series of workshops hosted by volunteer alumni that taught networking skills and LinkedIn profile-building.

Chelsea Lehmann, coordinator for the SophoMORE Connections program, provided insight into the planning process behind converting the program to a virtual format.

 “We wanted it to be as useful, as helpful and productive as could be even though it was virtual,” Lehmann said. “We looked at lots of different platforms to host things. [We] didn’t want to make it overly complicated but still wanted students to meet alumni and get the feel for the industry.”

Career Services Associate Director of Operations and Assessment Laura Hartpence, who was involved in the transition of the program to a virtual format, discussed the differences of hosting the program virtually in comparison to in-person. 

“In this process, we decided to redesign SophoMORE Connections, so the program this year wasn’t really a virtual version of our typical program,” Hartpence said. “What we decided to focus on this year was giving students a chance to dive deeper into an industry that they were curious about already.”

Lehmann notes that launching a virtual format did not impact alumni participation in the program.

“The alumni have really — ever since last March — really been excited to help in any way they can,” Lehmann said. “This was still a great way to stay helpful and stay engaged even if they can’t be on campus.”

Lehmann also mentioned that this year’s virtual format made it easier for alumni from all geographic locations to participate. 

“Oftentimes when I invite alumni to come in-person, the ones who are able to come are the ones on the East Coast” Lehmann said. “The alumni that checked in this time were really all over the country. We had quite a few from the West Coast and even one in Singapore.”

Sophomore Abbie Grady attended this year’s SophoMORE Connections with interest in the healthcare industry.

“I thought it was really beneficial to see how people — how their paths — are not narrow,” Grady said in regards to alumni volunteers sharing their experiences.

Grady also provides insight on what she found most helpful about the program through her experience attending a healthcare industry session led by Brigham and Women’s Hospital Clinical Research Coordinator Christine Horn ‘19 and Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai MD Candidate Jennifer Dias ‘16.

“We were going through problems and working through things that they actually do in their job, which I thought was really cool because it made me realize those were things that I probably didn’t consider doing before, but that I now had more interest in,” Grady said.