For Caitlin '23, an initiative that started as a "quarantine project" became an opportunity to discover new career interests while connecting with inspiring Laurentians in communications, healthcare, education, technology, and more.
Quarantine projects… we all had them. There is no denying that the worldwide “pause” in 2020 provided a little extra time to work on ideas and undertakings that we didn’t previously have room for in our busy schedules and hectic lives. For me, that project was creating NetConnect, a podcast that highlights St. Lawrence University alumni.
Every episode features an interview with a unique St. Lawrence graduate, with class years ranging from 1988 to 2019 in the first season. My goals in launching the podcast were to shed light on the world of networking for more students, introduce them to leaders in multiple industries, and give alumni a platform to share their stories and advice.
I was inspired to create the show after attending the virtual event, “SLU Connect LIVE!” During one presentation, a Laurentian panelist spoke about how much employers love candidates who are “self-starters,” and how creating something during college can provide valuable experience. As a student who has focused on connecting with and learning from fellow Laurentians over the past year, the idea sort of just came to me after the event—"Why don’t I expose more of my peers to this amazing resource that we have here at SLU?”
After solidifying a rough plan of my vision for the podcast, I took to—you guessed it—the SLU alumni network to get it underway. When I shared my idea with an alumnus whom I would consider both a mentor and friend, I was greeted with more resources, connections, and even a Clubhouse invitation to help me make the show’s debut the best it could possibly be.
In the first season of NetConnect, I spoke with Laurentians working in education, advocacy, communications, medicine, and more. Our conversations are rich with insights for listeners at any stage of their career.
From Ned Breslin ’88, CEO of Tennyson Center for Children, I learned that the key to obtaining leadership or executive positions in one’s career is not to focus on “getting the title,” but rather to prioritize surrounding oneself with a team of knowledgeable people.
“I didn’t sit down and say I wanted to be a CEO,” Breslin says, “but I was very focused on getting good mentors.”
On the other end of the professional spectrum, for recent graduates just starting out in their careers, Daniel Abrams ’19 believes that shared connections and interview skills are paramount in receiving job offers.
“You’re much more likely to get a job from a common acquaintance… and another huge, huge thing is asking good questions of the interviewer,” Abrams says.
"Our alumni are selfless, welcoming, supportive, and willing to help students in any way—from sharing interview tips or specific career advice, setting up job or internship interviews, or connecting them with people and organizations that can help further their careers." —Caitlin French '23
Later in the season, Jennifer Curley ’90 sheds light on the ways to be an effective leader at every stage in one’s career, and how to differentiate oneself within the competitive job market.
“I want to lead with strategy and vision, but also with compassion and kindness… Think outside the box a little bit as to what you can do to add to your resume, add to your experience, add to your story during this time, and I think that will differentiate you,” Curley says.
I feel proud that NetConnect has allowed me to hone my own networking skills while illuminating the expertise of our incredible alumni for fellow students. Ranked third among private colleges by The Princeton Review, the St. Lawrence alumni network is truly a special community. Our alumni are selfless, welcoming, supportive, and willing to help students in any way—from sharing interview tips or specific career advice, setting up job or internship interviews, or connecting them with people and organizations that can help further their careers.
In addition to being a rewarding experience, this project has solidified my passion for a career in the communications field. From writing emails, developing interview questions, and having meaningful conversations with a wide variety of voices to editing every episode and designing assets to market the podcast on social media, the entire process has shown me how much I love working in creative environments and connecting with others. As I continue exploring journalism, marketing, or public relations, I look forward to challenging myself with new projects. Season two is projected to launch on Spotify at the beginning of the Fall 2021 semester!