SophoMORE Connections 2021 a Virtual Success

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One vital element of a Colgate education is access to award-winning Career Services support. More than 230 second-year students leveraged that access during the University’s annual SophoMORE Connections event, which was held virtually, January 5–19. 

Students at Colgate engage with Career Services early and often, and the SophoMORE Connections program is a hallmark, designed to connect second-year students with alumni from a wide swath of industries — all of whom are willing to lend a helping hand.

This year, more than 40 alumni gathered online to host career sessions related to business, consulting, health care, social justice, environmentalism, media, real estate, and more. The virtual offerings provided students with an opportunity to take a deep dive into an industry of their choice by engaging in mini-projects. 

“I found it really helpful to hear what alumni have to say about their experiences, be it their education, networking skills, or their current jobs/responsibilities,” says Jian Chen ’23. “It gave me a good idea of what I might want to do and what to expect as I work my way toward a career in health care.”

North Shore University Hospital Executive Director Jon Sendach ’98 delivered this year’s keynote address. As executive director, Sendach provides overall management for an 800-bed academic medical center. His responsibilities include strategy, financial stewardship, and leadership of a facility that serves as one of the cornerstones of Northwell Health. It is also the academic campus for the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell. 

While at Colgate, Sendach said he explored different departments that interested him before deciding to double major in political science and French. Sendach said he is thankful for the flexibility and creativity a liberal arts education provided. He also stressed the importance of learning from mistakes and failures.

“You will be thrown numerous things in your life that are unexpected,” Sendach says. “The first time that happened to me really in my life was at Colgate, and I think it has helped me enormously to navigate so many things. This pandemic is just one example.” Challenges improve and strengthen skills needed as students navigate their career paths. 

Teresa Olsen, assistant vice president and director of Career Services, acknowledged the importance of discovering careers through the alumni network. She closed the event by saying, “I want to thank our alumni — volunteers from all over the country — who stepped up to help Colgate students during the pandemic. They went above and beyond to make our sessions interactive and engaging.”

Career Services also provides opportunities for students to develop their professional skills outside of the SophoMORE Connections program, through résumé round-ups, summer funding for unpaid or underpaid internships, individual career advising, and more.