NYC CONNECT returns in person, connecting students and alumni
Rachel Dragoy ’19 and Brendan Geen ’19 both attended NYC CONNECT when they were seniors at Binghamton University — and both saw such value in it that they were quick to jump at the chance to host current students for Employer Treks this January.
NYC CONNECT, held annually in Manhattan (although disrupted by the pandemic), consists of a student and alumni Network Night sponsored by the Office of Alumni Engagement and a series of Employer Treks held throughout the week at employer sites in New York City. The treks are arranged by the Fleishman Center for Career and Professional Development, in partnership with School of Management Career Services, Watson Career and Alumni Connections, Harpur Edge, College of Community and Public Affairs Career and Intercultural Services, and Decker College of Nursing and Health Sciences.
Two hundred and seventy-eight students participated in the University’s flagship networking event Monday, Jan. 9, at the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel in New York City, meeting with 110 alumni representing a wide variety of industries and professions. The NYC Employer Treks, held Jan. 9–13 at 24 New York City-based employers, provided 140 students with valuable opportunities to enhance their professional education, explore various work environments and industries, learn about career opportunities, make connections and expand their professional networks.
A typical Employer Trek lasts two hours and consists of an employer presentation and information session, a panel of employees, a company tour, open question-and-answer time, and an opportunity to network with alumni and other professionals.
“Our alumni are such a valuable resource to our current students,” said Lindsey Murtland, senior associate director of employer engagement and partnerships at the Fleishman Career Center. “As our students begin their career exploration, alumni best represent the types of roles and opportunities available to students for internships or full-time positions. We strive to include alumni in NYC CONNECT because they can provide specific advice to students based on their personal experiences at Binghamton University.”
Dragoy and Geen were two of the alumni invited by Kathie Boice, assistant director of student employment at the Fleishman Career Center, to participate as an Employer Trek site. For Dragoy, now a coverage and investment banking associate at Crédit Agricole Corporate Investment Bank, saying yes was a no-brainer.
“I absolutely think it’s important to have a strong alumni network for the students, and hosting a trek is another way alumni can be a resource to students,” she said. “Any way I can give back to Binghamton, I’m happy to do so.”
After transferring to Binghamton University, Dragoy was nervous to start at the School of Management (SOM) as a business administration major with a concentration in finance. She hadn’t had great luck with career services at her previous institution. She was immediately impressed by the Fleishman Career Center’s breadth of services and focus on the student experience.
“I was routinely at the Fleishman Career Center, and I tried to use it as much as I could,” she said. “The center was an invaluable resource for me as a student, and I think it still is for School of Management students.
“I went there for peer and professional career advice, resume tips and review, and mock interviews,” Dragoy added. “It helped build my confidence, attention to detail, speaking and other communication skills, and overall professionalism.”
Geen, currently a program manager on Google’s engineering compliance team focusing on merger and acquisition projects, also made good use of the Fleishman Career Center as an undergraduate. Also a SOM student, he majored in business administration with concentrations in finance and management information systems and took advantage of general services like resume reviews and mock interviews. He also participated in the Connections for Success retreat during his sophomore year and then as a student mentor his junior and senior years.
“The Fleishman Career Center is really good at framing how what you’re learning in school, starting from your first year, is going to be applicable to your first job, your second job, etc.,” Geen said. “They also helped frame my extracurricular experiences as being professionally relevant. I was involved in running the TedX program, for example. That’s not immediately relevant to the cyber security consulting job that I took after school, but, believe it or not, it was actually what I talked about for more than half of my first interview at Deloitte.”
Geen also found the Employer Treks to be invaluable, and ended up working as a cyber risk consultant at Deloitte, one of the employers he visited during a trek.
“Actually going into an office and seeing what a consulting role would look like was valuable,” said Geen. “It’s interesting that, though there are 20,000 people staffed at this office, you’ll only see about 500 people here. It’s good to know that when I apply for this job I won’t be in the office — I’ll be up, I’ll be moving around, I’ll be traveling. Direct exposure to the place that I would be working is probably the best way as a student, outside of an internship, to actually understand the culture of the place I’d be working.”
Geen’s current job at Google is also a result of the unique perspectives he gained at treks to employers like Facebook and Spotify. As a business student — not a software engineer or computer scientist — he had never really considered a job in tech.
“I had always just assumed that in tech those were the only kind of roles,” Geen said. “But it was very interesting to go on that office visit and hear from program managers, salespeople, operations, HR, finance. It showed me that these giant companies still have every function, so it opened my eyes to the possibility of a career in tech.”
Geen was eager to welcome current students to his workplace and pass along the immediate accessibility to potential employers he received as a student. Dragoy also remembered being in the shoes of current Binghamton students, and said the Employer Treks and overall NYC CONNECT experience was one of the highlights of the year for her.
“It gave us insight into the organizations,” she said. “You’re really on the inside, talking to people about their day-to-day, and what they do. And the employers that were participating were really large firms, and some small firms so it gave me some outlook — do I want to be in a large-, medium- or small-sized firm? Where do I see myself fitting in? It helped me decide where I would like to apply at the conclusion of my senior year.”
Dragoy and Geen see participation as mutually beneficial for students and employers.
“I know how valuable it was to me,” said Geen, “so I wanted to continue that tradition and pass it on to current students. Binghamton is a phenomenal school with great students, and I’d love to see more of them at Google.”
“Partnering with Binghamton University is also valuable for Crédit Agricole CIB,” said Dragoy, “as it raises our visibility in recruiting efforts. Once Kathie reached out, I said, ‘This is a win-win.’ I know the last couple of years have been challenging for students. I was the last graduating class before the pandemic. It’s great that we got to finally be in person again to make those connections.”
Binghamton University is always looking to add more organizations to NYC CONNECT. If you are interested in hosting a future trek, contact the Fleishman Career Center at email@example.com.