Posted by Kate Butler
A buzz of voices filled the second floor of the Murray-Aikins Dining Hall on the evening of April 4 as Skidmore College students chatted with alumni about their post-graduate experiences and careers. Thanks to the collaboration of the College's Career Development Center and the Community Service Office, Skidmore students gained a glimpse into the careers of eight alumni who have all made a difference in a unique way.
When facing intimidating decisions about majors, internships, and post-college career paths, many students seek reassurance through the achievement of the liberal art students before them who now successfully operate in the working world. The visiting panelists, who all share a common liberal arts background, but work in diverse fields, appealed to the students' unique interests while offering insight on how to secure a future career. They placed particular emphasis on advocacy and making an impact in the world in varying professions.
The alumni panel consisted of eight alumni: Jackie Abodeely, a retired New York police officer and current volunteer service dog trainer; Becky Jarczynski, a program director for the Downtown Schenectady Improvement Corporation; Tyrone Jones, a clinical supervisor for Palladia, Inc., who specializes in substance abuse treatment and supportive housing services for the homeless of New York City; Victoria Malaney, a Fellow in Skidmore's own Office of Student Diversity Programs; Joshua Relin, Psy.D., a clinical psychologist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst Center for Counseling and Psychological Health; Kasha Rybczyk, the site director for a middle school who also works for Tenacity, Inc., a non-profit that provides reading and tennis instruction for under-privileged kids, and Evan Schneider, a director of policy development for Senator Neil D. Breslin.
Jenna Hartwell of the Career Development Center organized the event with Michelle Hubbs of the Community Service Office. Hartwell explained that she and Hubbs wanted to provide students with a wide range of careers with that make a difference but lie outside of the traditional social science fields. Hartwell, whose office offers free, unlimited career counseling both before and after graduation, emphasized the importance of the advocacy involved in these jobs to appeal to the socially conscious students.
After a half hour of free time to mingle and network with alumni, the students and panelists took their seats for the moderated question and answer portion of the evening. For the next hour, David Karp of the Sociology Department and Campus Life moderated, asking questions and calling on students to contribute their own. Questions ranged from how to choose a fitting career path to the benefits of taking a gap year. The panelists offered their unique opinions and experiences, often emphasizing the importance of their liberal arts educations in providing them with a wider range of opportunities.
Despite their differing interests and careers, the panelists often offered similar advice to their audience. Seeking new opportunities and developing fresh interests remained, for each panelist, the most important strategy for graduates embarking on the career search. Whether searching for the perfect job, considering a gap year, or contemplating graduate school, students should keep all of their options open.
"You're growing and changing through four years of college," Abodeely said. "But you're growing and changing through life, so don't shut any doors. Be open."