By Erika Sasso
296 first-year and sophomore students gathered in the Commons Jan. 21 to participate in the Think. Act. Lead. Planning Conference. The event offered input from various alumni from fields including business, education, and healthcare.
The day started with the “Think” portion of the conference that featured the key note speaker, Augusto “Cookie” Rojas, Jr. JD. Rojas has a career in sports managing for the New Orleans Baby Cakes baseball team. He offered some advice for Stonehill students to be used in their future careers.
Rojas expressed to students that moving up in your career is all about forming relationships with people.
“It is not what you know, but who you know,” he said.
Following the keynote speaker, students had the opportunity to break out and visit different panels to learn about various tools that can be used to help them shape their careers in the “Act” portion of the conference. This allowed the students learn about how they can make their goals attainable.
The Career Development staff and other Stonehill faculty members led the sessions providing students with everything they needed to know about studying abroad, interning away, managing their finances, how to use LinkedIn, how to become a leader on campus, choosing the right major, graduating on time and how to start a resume from scratch.
“It is critical that students intentionally plan their time at college,” Director of Career Development Christina Burney said. “Plan early to take advantage of all opportunities because the earlier you start the more successful you will be in life.”
After the “Act” portion of the conference, students were able to eat lunch with alumni in a range of fields and ask them questions about their work and how they ended up in the career field they were in. Students got to know different alumni at a personal level in a relaxed environment.
The Career Development Office constantly encourages students to reach out to alumni and attend alumni luncheons. This part of the conference made it easy for students to network with over 40 alumni of all age ranges, expertise levels, and career fields.
The last “Lead” portion of the conference featured panel discussion with the alumni students had the chance to meet at lunch. These alumni included professionals who have started their own businesses, ended up on unexpected paths that they could have never predicted, and have exceled in the medicine, business, and education fields.
Pamela Bardhi ’13 led the panel discussion “Becoming Your Own Boss.” Shortly after graduating from Stonehill she opened Ria Café in Boston and is now also the founder of Bardhi Investment Group. She inspired students to stay motivated and not let anything get in the way of their dreams.
“When life throws you problems you find solutions,” Bardhi said.
Another popular panel among the students was “Unexpected Paths,” led by alum Chad Gaughan ‘10 and Beth Rea ’95. Gaughan majored in Biology at Stonehill and to become a dentist; however, after graduation he decided to take what he thought would be a temporary job at a concierge company and ended up becoming the Director of Operations. He is now President at a Local Property Shop.
Rea majored in English at Stonehill and planned on receiving her master’s degree in English as well. Over the course of her four years at Stonehill, she realized she had a knack for graphic design, which led her to study at the Massachusetts College of Art. She is now the Creative Director at Fidelity Investments’ and still has thoughts on switching her career everyday.
Sophomore, Katie McGovern said she appreciated the “Unexpected Paths” panel telling unique stories.
“It is very refreshing to hear about people who did not exactly know what they wanted to do when they started but are now successful in paths they never even imagined,” she said.
The conference began the spring semester encouraging students to explore their options and move forward with their careers, with insight provided by the experienced alumni, dedicated professors, and the hard working staff at the Career Development Center.