Weekend retreat boosts students’ career confidence

S’mores anyone? People are having a blast sitting near the fire, sharing stories and laughing. What sounds like summer camp is part of a weekend with a serious purpose.

In early spring, the Fleishman Center for Career and Professional Development held its second annual Connections for Success retreat in the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania. The conference brought sophomores together with alumni for explorations of the power of building authentic relationships, understanding oneself and being confident when making career decisions. Having the event off campus helped students get out of the “work persona.”

“I’m thankful for the opportunity to be part of this big family and make connections,” says student Danlei Xiang. “I’m definitely more optimistic for my future career.”

Younger alumni were chosen to give presentations and serve as mentors because they can easily recall those first, tentative steps on the path to a career.

“I’m proud to be part of anything that pushes students to hold on to their passions and break through seemingly unachievable goals while becoming more comfortable with themselves,” says Nicole Kelly ’15, who gave a presentation about leadership and communication using LEGO model airplanes.

As a mentor (and past participant), Jessie Kwan ’18 reached out to shy students.

“This retreat was rewarding for my professional growth and personal development,” Kwan says. “I saw what my strengths were and used them to help create a better environment for the students.”

Speed networking, leadership sessions, being matched with a mentor, hearing alumni talk about their careers — as with any retreat, a lot was packed into a short period of time. The goal was for students to know what sets them apart and brand themselves in the best way for their future careers. Some results were apparent immediately.

“Those who started the weekend a little timid were quick to push themselves, speak up and showcase their personal brand,” Kelly says. “The students walked away with fiery energy to strive for big things.”

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