Career Services Hosts First SophoMORE Connections

Before the Colgate campus sprang back to life again for the spring semester, about 325 sophomores returned to school early to learn how to navigate the rest of the year and also to get an edge on preparing themselves for future decisions. The SophoMORE Connections program, sponsored by Alumni Relations, Career Services, the Class of 2015 and the Dean of Faculty and Institutional Advancement, took place from January 17 to 19.

“Sophomore year is the perfect time for students to begin conversations around career ideas,” Director of Operations and Strategic Planning in Career Services Teresa Olsen said. “Professional maturity upon graduation is achievable only when students start early, and build out this portfolio of skills and experiences. Our role is to ensure students are aware of these expectations, and know the resources available to them now, when they can dig in and significantly impact their marketability in a few years.”

The event was comprised of a multitude of workshops aimed at raising awareness about career resources at Colgate for future careers, understanding various career paths and fostering connections with alumni.

The event kicked off on Thursday with a dinner and a strategy about how to fully take advantage of the three days.

On Friday, students attended “Career Clusters,” which provided a view into 12 different industries such as Education, Environmental Affairs and Business Services/Consulting. A total of 100-plus alumni described the culture of their respective industries and the skills they demand.

“I learned about jobs that I didn’t even know existed. It truly broadened my horizons as to the job opportunities that are out there,” sophomore Benjamin Cook said.

After collecting feedback, Career Services noted that the student-alumni interaction was perhaps the most valuable part of the experience. The sophomores had space to network in the low-pressure atmosphere that both accommodated uncertainty and encouraged exploration.

Another attendee, sophomore Katherine Schultz, reiterated the value of this event segment.

“I thought the most helpful part of the program was the cocktail party. During this time we went around and interacted with alumni and learned about what they did and how to network,” Schultz said. “Hearing personal stories made the ‘connection process’ a lot easier and more personal.”

The luncheon on Friday featured the keynote speaker, Julian Farrior ’93, who was chosen for his exemplification of the twists and turns that an entrepreneur’s life may take, as well as a general illustration of a particular career path. Farrior is the CEO/Founder of Backflip Studios, a mobile game company centered on creating innovative titles catered to the growing group of causal gamers. On top of his representation as an entrepreneur, Farrior also serves as a role model for helping others, with his involvement in educational gaming products.

Olsen felt that Farrior’s presentation imparted a fundamental lesson for students.

 “It will be equally important for this generation of job seekers to be open to risk and creativity, as it will be to curate and cultivate a strong network of colleagues that they will engage to support their career choices.”

Also on Friday, sophomores learned about the advantages available at their fingertips on the Colgate campus. This included an explanation of the “academic edge” of a liberal arts education, as well as Career Services “Career Prep 101” including seminars on interviewing, resume and cover letter writing and internship searches.

Lastly, Saturday featured the Summer Expo, wherein attendees had the opportunity to speak with about 25 juniors and seniors about their summer internships, research and service experience.

Junior Maddy Butts described her summer experience in which she participated in the undergraduate research program at Colgate and consequently received a grant from the school to travel with her professor, Catherine Cardelus, to Costa Rica to experiment in the rainforest canopy.

 “It was so great to share my experience with other students at Colgate because so many students are unaware of the wonderful, unique experiences offered right here at Colgate,” Butts said. “I also tried to emphasize the importance of building relationships with our professors considering the ideal time frame of sophomore year.”

Senior Rebecca Silberman also shared the same desire to share her experience.

“I wish I had been more proactive about finding internships and research opportunities earlier in my Colgate career,” Silberman said. “As a senior science major looking to go to graduate school, I can now see very clearly that these experiences are essential not only to your application but to knowing what you want to study and developing the skills to do so.”

The introduction of the SophoMORE Connections program represents a restructuring and reinvention of Colgate Career Services initiatives for students. The SophoMORE Connections program took place at the same time that the Real World – a career exploration event for seniors – would have occurred. With the positive feedback from attendees and future modifications to be made from this feedback, the January SophoMORE Connections event will become a permanent staple in the Career Services program.

Contact Hannah Fuchs at

[email protected].