This past Monday night, I was honored to be asked to attend a Mocktails and Minutes Career Services hosted event at St John’s University Staten Island campus . It was similar to the event I attended at Wagner College recently (Speed Networking Event at Wagner College) but at the same time very different.
Both events were excellent and well run. Last night, we had the same set up with professionals covering tables and students moving around to each table to “learn” from us. Anyone who follows me or reads my blog knows that I am huge on learning. I brought my company swag with me – magnets for everyone and a few students even got copies of my Entrepreneur-ING book!
I went to the Staten Island campus of St John’s and I often say that I became who I am while studying at SJU both on Staten Island and in Rome, Italy. In high school I was, at best, an average student. If you have read The Book on College Readiness that I wrote, you will know that I credit my choice in which college I went to for helping me to “grow up”. At SJU, I became a straight A student who was valedictorian at graduation and given the full tuition scholarship to the Rome Italy campus for the MBA program.
Obviously, I have a very strong connection to St John’s. I worked there as a student worker from 1994-1998 and a GA in Italy from 1998-1999 and in 2003, I started my career as an adjunct professor with St John’s – I am like a tree in terms of the Staten Island campus and SJU as a whole (meaning I have been there for-ever!).
Being there last night and being able to give back in whatever small way I could as someone who is an alum and has been doing lots of different things in my career and as an entrepreneur was amazing! I really got to speak to the students and share with them from the perspective of someone who has worn a lot of hats, done the “reboot” thing a few times and by default had real lessons to share with them. I was lucky enough to share the table with a more recent graduate from St John’s and I think between the two of us we really gave a great complement on advice and lessons from both being a “new” grad and an “old timer”. And yes, I consider myself an “old timer” and I am so happy to be one!
I am used to being the youngest - the youngest person in my MBA program (my nickname was and still is "bambina"), a young manager at Merrill Lynch, a young PMP -- you get the idea. For me, being at a point where I can reference and share my lessons from 10+ years as a senior project manager AND 13+ years as an educator AND 12+ years as an entrepreneur makes me sooo excited and happy to be able to say to the students, "this is how things work in the real world and these are my lessons on how you can succeed!" And it is based on these years that came about at the start right there at 300 Howard Avenue...
It's really amazing. Kudos to the career services staff for bringing together such a wonderful and diverse group of professionals to "teach" the amazing group of students who were at the event. I offered to each student I spoke to a free connection - a free branding and/or resume review and I do hope some of them follow up with me so that I can continue to help them along their journey to their next steps!
What do you think about giving back to your alma mater? Have you ever volunteered to attend an event as a resource for current students? Happy hunting!
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Lisa Vento Nielsen