Every year, the Stony Brook Alumni Association and the Career Center organizes a large-scale networking mixer to help promote and facilitate connections between students and alumni and also provide opportunities for alumni-to-alumni networking. On Thursday, March 30, Stony Brook students, alumni and friends connected for several rounds of networking at the 7th Annual Students and Alumni Networking Mixer. More than 80 alumni and friends attended as mentors, and 100 students and alumni attended as mentees.
Twenty-one “career tables” were arranged, representing various occupations including: communications, teaching/education, engineering, government, entrepreneurs, executive management, human resources and health care. Prior to the mixer, students and alumni went through orientations to help prepare them to make the most out of their conversations, learn ways to manage their nerves associated with meeting new people, participants were encouraged to increase their career and company knowledge by asking career questions and learned how critical it is to nurture lifetime connections. Adam Grant’s TED Talk provided perspective for both mentors and mentees during orientation. Grant maintains, “many of the world’s greatest networkers have the mindset of giving.” He also points out that “if everyone networks with the mindset of ‘what can I get?’, then no one gets anything.”
This year’s mentors provided career advice, which was displayed on a scrolling powerpoint featuring profiles of all mentors attending. There were many great examples of advice to help mentees better understand what it takes to persevere through the ups and downs we experience in our career lives: “Dreams don’t work unless you do.” “Don’t be afraid to fail and use those experiences to grow professionally.” “Knowledge opens the key to many doors, it is up to you to walk through them.” “It’s ok to not have it all together.”
Bethany Green ’04 — a police officer at the Suffolk County Police Department and a part-time JAG reservist for the New York Army National Guard — addressed the crowd with an inspiring speech about her path from college to career, insisting that it is possible to follow the dream while still managing day-to-day life. In 2014, Bethany was a Stony Brook University 40 Under Forty honoree. Bethany graduated with her BA in History from Dowling College in 2003. In 2004, she graduated with a master’s degree in history from Stony Brook University and in 2008 she graduated with her JD from Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center. She served in Afghanistan from 2011-2012. Bethany is also a former Suffolk County assistant district attorney.
Mentees who attended provided great insight about their experience:
“I really loved this experience. This not only helped me gain a wider perspective in some of the career fields but also provide me with a platform to learn something from others’ life stories.” — Xicheng Zhou ’19, BS in Psychology and Sociology.
“Speaking with accomplished alumni and hearing about their journey to their success was extremely helpful and reassuring. They spoke honestly about the failures it took for them to get where they are now, which made me feel a lot more relaxed and prepared for my future.” —Erica Ferer ’17, BE in Biomedical Engineering.
“The mixer was, and always has been a great event. It gives an opportunity for students to learn more about the careers they want to pursue while connecting them with knowledgeable alumni who are well respected in their fields. It has been great to see the event grow over the past few years. I was fortunate to find a great internship experience as a result of attending this mixer, last year!” —Dennis Lestrange ’17, BS in Business Management.
After the mixer, mentees were eager to learn about how to master the art of networking follow-up. We are certain that many successful connections were made!
Mentors provided great insight, as well. One testimonial sums up what we always intended as a core goal of this event: alumni to alumni networking.
“I had signed up as a mentor; however, by the end of the event, I became the mentee. I am grateful to have been in both positions. I left the event feeling a sense of love, encouragement and support. Thank you!”
We provided a unique opportunity for participants to donate money to the Career Center Student Professional Development Fund. This fund was created to help undergraduate students take advantage of career-related professional development opportunities. We were excited to see so many participants generously supporting their fellow peers by donating to the fund.
This year’s mixer was presented by the Stony Brook University Alumni Association, the Stony Brook University Career Center and was sponsored in part by Island Federal Credit Union.
Click here to view photos from this year’s Networking Mixer.