Students empowered by New York Metro alumni network

By Steve Seepersaud

Margot Berwin ’84 recalls the anxiety of reaching out to agents and publishers, hoping to break through their slush piles and get her work in print. With several books to her credit — including a title optioned for a movie — she enjoys helping those who want to turn their manuscripts into books. Earlier this week, she led a session in Manhattan where she advised current Binghamton University students interested in becoming published authors.

“I think it's important for writing students to know what it's going to be like once they get out of school,” Berwin said. “I wanted to give them the opportunity to ask questions of people in the publishing industry as well as published authors. That's why I brought an agent and a small publisher to meet with them. I hope the session will make the students’ transition easier!”

Berwin’s talk was part of New York City CONNECT (formerly known as Binghamton in the City), an annual week of career development programs during the University’s winter recess. Nearly 50 employer treks took place in and around the city Jan. 6-10; the vast majority of them were hosted by alumni. Employer treks brought students into workplaces for tours and question-and-answer sessions intended to give them a view into an industry and organization’s culture. This was an incredible opportunity because CONNECT gave the students access to people and places that would be much tougher to obtain otherwise.

“I’ve hosted Binghamton students at my firm for the last four years,” said Steve Fleishman '91, managing director at Wolfe Research. “It’s a win-win for all involved. The students learn about Wolfe Research and Wall Street, and hear some great career advice from Binghamton graduates and our CEO Ed Wolfe.  From our firm’s perspective, we’ve found some talented future interns and job candidates from the event.  And for me personally, I enjoy sharing lessons learned from a career on Wall Street and giving highly-motivated Binghamton students the shot they deserve.”

Networking Night (formerly known as Metro Connections Night) held Jan. 7, at the Sheraton New York Times Square, was the week’s largest event. It attracted more than 400 students who explored a range of careers within the same location by engaging in one-on-one conversations with accomplished alumni.

“I enjoyed volunteering at the Networking Night and hearing what our soon-to-be graduates are interested in. Today, there are more flexible and remote employment opportunities. I appreciated having an opportunity to help students sort out the many options they have,” said Christa DeHuff ’06, MS ’08, owner of A Central Park Wedding, a business that plans weddings for people who want to get married in the city’s iconic park.

Armand Khatri ’09, partner manager, financial services at Pinterest, was the keynote speaker at Networking Night, sharing how students can land and stay on someone’s radar.

“Networking is a dirty word, so I hope the students came away with a perception shift that networking is simply building friendships and when you bring your full self to the conversation, it's not only more pleasant but feels that much more authentic,” Khatri said. “So it's a mind shift, but it's quickly followed up by the fact that it requires work.”

New York City CONNECT also included a panel discussion for parents who want to help their students’ career development, a panel on women’s leadership, Liberal Arts to Careers Externship opportunities, winter session courses in legal issues, and a networking session for finance students.

Want to help current students? Have advice to share? Join the Binghamton University Mentoring Program where you can communicate online with students through a secure platform just for Binghamton students and alumni. It’s mentoring that can be done anywhere and that fits your busy lifestyle.