Career Exploration Week returns
The Career Exploration Week series returned on Feb. 19 to give students interested in pursuing careers in government, law and international relations a comprehensive look into the various fields and opportunities that await them after graduation.
Presented by the Hale Center for Career Development, with assistance from the Toor Cummings Center for International Studies and the Liberal Arts (CISLA) and the Holleran Center for Community Action, the most recent installment of the popular series involved nine virtual events led by 20 Conn alumni. The participating alumni addressed how their Conn education prepared them for their careers and how they navigated the challenges of their respective fields.
“The Career Exploration Week program series has grown out of the Hale Center’s mission to support, engage and prepare students in their professional growth and development,” said Ryan Edmonds, director of employer relations.
“For so many students, the process of answering the age-old question, ‘What do I want to do with my life?’ is a daunting one, and this program provides a safe space to hear the stories of Camels who have come before us, to provide some tools to implement in their own career journeys and to connect them to our amazing Connecticut College network,” he said.
Edmonds added that the series serves also as a vehicle to connect students to alumni, recruiters and peers while educating students on how to apply a liberal arts education to a variety of industries.
For Shawn Polonet ’89, this was his second time speaking to students during Career Exploration Week. Polonet, whose career in law enforcement, primarily within the federal government, has spanned three decades, discussed the benefits and challenges of working for the federal government and his experience conducting criminal investigations for the U.S. Treasury Department and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The presentation ranged from the broad overview of federal law enforcement to the practical aspects of how to apply for jobs within the government, a process he acknowledged can be tricky to navigate.
“I was especially happy to participate in the program, because I remember how difficult it was when I was a new grad trying to find my way through the complexities and challenges of applying for jobs within the federal government,” Polonet said.
“I spoke with many recruiters for various agencies and recall how grateful I was when they were willing to take time to answer my questions. I have never forgotten those who gave me guidance and encouragement, and now I am grateful for the chance to return the favor.”
While industry-focused career events are not a new idea, Conn has successfully built a vast network of alumni and parent contacts at major companies that have a track record of getting students feet through the door, and the Hale Center also collects and leverages data to identify an annual list of Camel 100 companies, businesses where the largest groups of graduates work.
During each Career Exploration Week, Conn uses those lists to identify alumni who are willing to serve as advocates and provide insight into their organizations. Some of the Camel 100 companies that participated in the government, law, and international relations week include AmeriCorps, Cravath, Swaine & Moore, Peace Corps and WilmerHale.
“I really appreciated and was surprised by the speakers' level of depth and honest advice across different subjects,” said Olivia Kappel ’22. “Their willingness to engage with us was extremely valuable in helping me to consider different post-graduate pathways. Career Week opened my eyes to new connections I didn't think I'd necessarily gain.”
The Hale Center will host two additional Career Exploration Weeks this spring, centered around Arts & Entertainment (March 8-12) and Careers for the Common Good (March 31-April 9).