Alumni share career insights with students

By Steve Seepersaud

Hiring has a very different look and feel today, but it's still being done, says Dan Black '94, head of global recruiting for accounting giant Ernst & Young (EY), during a virtual career panel hosted by the Fleishman Center for Career and Professional Development and the Binghamton University Alumni Association April 21.

"We're honoring all the offers we've made for internships and full-time positions," Black says. "We've been onboarding thousands of people over the last two months, virtually. They're trained using distance learning. We'd rather have them come in and do a regular onboarding, but we know this is temporary."

The panel, held via Zoom, provided a dose of positivity for current Binghamton University students, some of whom will graduate soon and jump into an extremely uncertain job market.

Black was one of three alumni who spoke to and fielded questions from more than 150 students. About half of the attendees were juniors or seniors, while another 20 percent are enrolled in master's programs at Binghamton. In a poll conducted during the webinar, about half of the students said they were worried about finding a job or internship.

The good news for the students is that fields such as healthcare, technology and supply chain offer a number of opportunities and will do so for the foreseeable future. Lisa Abbott, MBA '93, Alumni Association president and senior vice president for human resources and community affairs at Lifespan Corporation — Rhode Island's largest healthcare company — says her company is hiring and the positions won't disappear once the worst of the pandemic has passed.

"People have offers in the queue," Abbott says. "If those aren't for clinical positions, we're still honoring them, but we're postponing the start date. A lot of people appreciate that commitment in this environment. On the clinical side, we are doing a ton of hiring."

Jim Bankoski '91, distinguished director of Chrome graphics and codecs at Google, manages a team and has participated in recruitment efforts at Binghamton and other universities. He encouraged the students watching the panel discussion to be resilient and develop skills that are, and will be, in demand.

"People with expertise in video conferencing are getting hired pretty quickly," Bankosk says. "Being able to write code of any sort to do analysis is very helpful. We've put a ton of effort into improved infrastructure, and we can handle much greater loads on our server. Those are the things we're currently focused on."

Abbott encouraged students to be patient and understand employers are just as eager as they are to see the economic climate turn around.

"It's a tough time right now," she says. "We want to meet people. We want the students at our doors. You come to appreciate the value of a face-to-face anything right now. While I think technology is a great enabler of efficiency, ultimately we'll get back to the next normal and it will be face-to-face. We just have to bide our time because it will help us to be safe."