The first-ever sophomore career conference, organized by the Tufts Career Center, was held on Jan. 16 and 17 at the Medford/Somerville campus. Lasting a day and a half in total, the conference consisted of a welcome dinner, breakout sessions, an internship networking fair and a closing reception. The event was held at 51 Winthrop Street as well as Anderson and the Science and Engineering Complex (SEC) building, according to the event webpage. According to Malakia Silcott, assistant director of the Career Center, 110 sophomores attended the event. Silcott stated that the event was organized in an effort to help sophomores consider possible majors and careers more carefully.
“Particularly at four-year schools, sophomore year … can be sometimes overwhelming because you have to choose your major at the end of the year,” Silcott said. “The sophomore career conference represented for us an opportunity where sophomores could engage in some of these career reflection conversations when classes were not going on.” According to Silcott, many sophomores felt that they were able to get more out of the conference because it was held at a time when classes were not in session.
The event included Tufts alumni, current Tufts students, Tufts faculty and employers, Silcott told the Daily. Dean of Student Affairs Mary Pat McMahon delivered the conference welcoming speech. John Asare (LA ’14),a market analyst for a real estate group, was the keynote speaker. According to Silcott, companies represented at the conference included American Well, Breakthrough Greater Boston, Everquote, Hubspot and Citizen Schools. Many sophomores who attended the event spoke positively about it. Siobhan Shamlian, a member of the Tufts University Social Collective who introduced Asare, found that the conference ran smoothly and was helpful.
“This conference gave attendees a chance to reflect on what decisions they have already made and really think about those they have yet to make. In addition, the career conference was also a way for students to learn about all the resources available to them at the Career Center, many of which are underutilized,” Shamlian, a sophomore, told the Daily in an email. Silcott said that the session on “Leveraging Myself as an Entry Level Candidate for Internships” was one of the most well-attended sections of the entire conference. Silcott said the session focused on helping students with a lack of serious on-the-job work experience design a résumé that would sell their other jobs and activities to potential employers.
Connor Hager, who attended this particular session, said that it was helpful in learning how different experiences can be used to a candidate’s advantage. “The one session that really helped me was the session on leveraging your skills [as] an entry-level candidate,” Hager, a sophomore, told the Daily in an electronic message. “I was nervous up until I learned that every experience I have raises me higher, no matter what the job experience.”
Silcott said students were asked to complete evaluations at the end of the second day of the conference. When asked for suggestions of how the conference could be improved, students reported that it would have been helpful to have the conference before winter break, that there should have been more spots for registration and that it would have been helpful to have more time for student discussion and networking opportunities. “I wish that I could have talked to more members of my field for possible networking outside of Tufts and been able to talk with employers about internships,” Hager said.
According to Shamlian, students also believed that the conference could provide more hands-on experience in future years. “While students enjoyed the conference for the most part, I’ve heard recommendations to make the break-out sessions more hands-on to provide tangible skills,” Shamlian told the Daily. “The sessions of the conference worked more to expose us to different resources rather than to get us on our way to using them.”
Silcott and the other organizers of the event believe that that it went very well. “We’re still thinking through [future events for sophomores], so stay tuned,” Silcott said.