On Thursday, January 14, several hundred sophomores returned to Colgate for SophoMORE Connections, an annual event hosted by Career Services that provides current undergraduate students an opportunity to hear from almost 100 alumni about professional life after graduation. The three-day event featured various panel presentations, a networking reception and a keynote address from Sian-Pierre Regis ’06, founder of Swagger NYC.
Interim President Jill Harsin introduced Regis and discussed the importance of SophoMORE Connections in her opening remarks.
“To all of our alumni in this room, who have returned, who have braved the winter weather … to come here today, I’d like to thank you for staying connected and for providing this specific help to our students as they try to think about their futures,” Harsin said.
Harsin then addressed the students in attendance.
“To the students here, I’d like to say that you’re doing the right thing by starting early to think about post-Colgate life … I hope you continue to take advantage of the services that Career Services offer.”
Harsin also noted how Regis has served Colgate in his role as a successful alumnus. Previously, Regis has met with Colgate’s Thought Into Action (TIA) program and has spoken with the Colgate Marketing Club.
The theme of Regis’ keynote address was “Just Do You.”
“Following my gut is the only reason, or one of the only reasons, I’m here today, and I’ve been able to do exactly what I love every minute of my life. I just feel so lucky to have been able to literally check off almost everything on my list, and I’m only 31,” Regis said. “The gut is the only thing that you have. Nobody else can feel what you feel inside, and I think that that says something important. When you don’t listen to it, I think you’re kind of doing the wrong thing. So make sure you listen to your gut.”
Regis then described his journey after Colgate, which included leaving his job to spend seven months in France and then creating his own web-blog, Swagger. He recalled an important conversation he had with his father before leaving for France.
“[My dad said], ‘I don’t understand what you’re doing. I don’t understand why you’re going there. To be honest, you’re not going to be the next Bill Gates.’ I stood there sort of frozen. I couldn’t believe that my dad just said that to me 15 hours before getting on a plane. … But my gut said, ‘Go.’” Regis said.
After traveling to France, Regis created his website Swagger, which now has over 1.5 million fans.
“It was in that seven months that I really feel like I began my life’s journey. By following my gut and saying ‘I don’t care what you think, something is telling me to go,’ I began my life’s journey in Paris,” Regis said. “We’re all here for a reason. The key to figuring it out though is listening to your gut. It is, and should be, without a doubt, your beacon.”
Sophomore Revee Needham spoke to how the alumni-hosted panel presentations have proved helpful as she continues to study at Colgate.
“I didn’t quite know what I could do with my major in Environmental Studies, so I’m glad that I went to the Sustainability Panel to hear about various options. Each of the alumni’s stories were convoluted and not linear, which made me feel less nervous about knowing my future career path. Not one of them could predict where they ended up after graduating Colgate,” Needham said.
She also summed up several lessons she learned throughout the weekend. “One main takeaway from the weekend is that knowing what you don’t like in a job is just as valuable as knowing what you do like. I certainly have narrowed down my list of dislikes. Overall, the ties that Colgate has with alumni are incredible, many that I spoke to got their job because of a Colgate connection,” Needham said.
On Tuesday, January 26, the SophoMORE Connections Steering Committee announced that sophomores Alex Calvert and Miranda Gilgore were the two winners of a $4000 grant to explore an internship over the summer. Sophomores were entered into the drawing for attending panels and events throughout the SophoMORE Connections weekend.
Sophomore Zoe Sale summed up her own experience at SophoMORE Connections, explaining how impressed she was by the innovative program orchestrated by Career Services.
“I think that SophoMORE Connections is a great idea and one reason that makes Colgate above and beyond some of the other schools that I looked at before deciding on Colgate. It’s just nice to see how many alumni love their school and are so willing to take their time to come and talk to us,” Sale said.