Career Connections Boot Camp Draws Students, Alumni

Samuel Leclerc ’16 decided he would return to St. Lawrence University a few days before the start of the spring semester in order to gain some advice this year. Interested in business and finance, Sam attended the University’s first Career Connections Boot Camp in hopes of learning valuable lessons for securing an internship this summer.

“I believe this is going to be very helpful to hear directly from the people who can best help walk me through the process,” said Sam of Québec City, Canada. “It’s great to meet and interact with all these alumni, so I can begin building a network for finding myself an internship site.”

Joining Sam at the two-day boot camp were more than 100 mostly second-year students who came back to campus early to learn internship tips from 30 Laurentian alumni and parents, who lead panel discussions and seminars in the areas of business, communication, education, entrepreneurship, environment, finance, government and law, and health and medicine.

Kenneth Polk ’91 joined the business panel on Saturday. Polk started his career as an admissions counselor following his graduation from St. Lawrence. After moving back to his hometown of Buffalo, Polk spent three years working for a professional indoor soccer team before joining Automatic Data Processing (ADP). There, he became part of the company’s major-account services division, selling ADP solutions to larger companies for six years before moving into a management position. Today, Polk trains and certifies future leaders while also developing current leaders through executive coaching.

Polk, who was a 10-year member of St. Lawrence’s Alumni Executive Council and president for two years, said the boot camp was a great chance for students to learn valuable tips when it comes to securing internships.

“There is little I enjoy more by being an alumni volunteer than directly helping today’s students,” said Polk who lives near Buffalo. “This inaugural program helped connect sophomores with a wide range of alumni who can help show the way towards securing their first internship or job. I know the advice offered about resume writing, interviewing techniques and professional networking would have helped me tremendously 20 years ago.”

Career Connections and the boot camp also received national attention from Inside Higher Ed, which featured the programs in a Jan. 21 article.

Participating students attended workshops on résumé and cover letter writing, finding internships, networking and developing interviewing skills. Students also attend presentations on accessing St. Lawrence-sponsored academic and co-curricular experiential learning programs such as study abroad, community based learning, volunteer work, internship credit, on-campus employment, and special off-campus academic semesters.

Geoffrey Falen, director of Career Connections, said the event, which targets second-year students, is meant to teach students valuable skills necessary for securing internships.

"The career boot camp is targeted specifically to sophomores, who are on the cusp of declaring their major,” Falen said. “The idea is that sophomore year is kind of the ‘sweet-spot’ for starting to think about life after college. This is part of St. Lawrence’s larger effort to foster career exploration and engagement earlier in the college career.”

The two-day event ended with a networking reception for students and panelists, where students had the opportunity to put into practice what they learned during the boot camp.

For more information, visit the Career Connections website.