by Alexander Bossakov ’20
At 1st Avenue and 46th Street, Dickinson students gathered under the waving flags of 193 nations. The United Nations headquarters building loomed over Manhattan as delegates rushed past us and through security. We had all arrived in New York City as part of the Career Center’s career immersion and networking program in New York City and Washington, D.C. (which was to occur the next day). Students dispersed throughout the city to places such as the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development, BBC Worldwide, Ogilvy, FTI Consulting, Juna Equity Partners and the United Nations. Each locale was represented by Dickinson alumni who worked at that organization and were able to convey a deep understanding of their organization's inner workings and the specificities of their jobs. The day culminated with a reception hosted at the architecture firm of Dickinson alumna Sylvia Smith ’73 (art & art history).
My first of two immersion sessions was at the United Nations. We met with Andreina Botto, chief of outreach and gender, who discussed programs, internships and career opportunities at the U.N. Botto spoke about her academic and career paths, as well as about her duties at the headquarters and other stations, then opened up the room for discussion. Joining us was Katalin Downing ’01 (international studies, political science), a finance officer at the U.N., who was able to draw on her Dickinson experience and education to illuminate her story.
My peers and I posed questions about starting a career at the U.N. and about the direction that the organization is taking in the current political and economic context. What ensued was a robust discussion in which we all took advantage of the unique opportunity speak directly with the individuals in charge of the operations of an international organization like the United Nations.
A few hours later, I found myself at 1120 Avenue of the Americas, along with a couple of other students, ready to meet with representatives from BBC Worldwide. We were welcomed by Miriam Weiner ’09 (French & Francophone studies) in the “living room” of BBC’s rather upbeat office. Joining us were Samantha Chong, a social media producer, and S.J. Velasquez, a digital producer and editor. The discussion was personal and thorough, encompassing both the everyday thrills associated with BBC producers, editors and writers and BBC’s position within the current state of the ever-so-dynamic journalism industry.
What made these two sessions so compelling was the opportunity to listen to professionals in fields close to my very own academic path talk about their practical involvement in and intellectual commitment to their organizations and industries. Velasquez passionately shared her lifelong dedication to accountability and fairness in representation. Botto, with unceasing frankness, expressed faith in an emerging generation willing to do more about human rights and international development and cooperation. Throughout our time in New York, our interactions with writers, leaders, researchers and creators solidified our knowledge of industries and professions, while simultaneously passing on to us a generous dose of practical idealism necessary for our next steps as scholars.
At the end of the day, we all gathered at Smith's architecture firm. On the top floors of a beautiful open-space office, furnished and painted in white, Smith welcomed us by showing us around and discussing recent projects undertaken by FXFOWLE Architects, the architecture firm at which she is senior partner. Models and sketches of projects for organizations like the Columbia University School of Nursing or the Statue of Liberty Museum were prominent. For Smith, we learned, architecture is the epitome of the liberal arts; its creation requires the combination of arts, culture, science, math, politics, economics and a lot more, in thorough conversation with each other.
Later, at the reception, we were able to introduce ourselves to alumni and converse about Dickinson, academic paths that lead to myriad careers and the industries represented by those attending. Networking can be a delightfully energizing experience or a lamentably tedious one. To be surrounded by Dickinson alumni with an educational background so relatable, and at the same time so distinct from one another, was unquestionably the former—each connection, for me, was characterized by a genuine desire to learn, help and advise. I formed relationships at the United Nations, the BBC and the reception, for which I am thankful and that certainly, as a sophomore, nudged me in a fresh direction with renewed confidence.
View Facebook photos from the Career Connections events in New York City and Washington, D.C.
Published October 25, 2017