“Welcome to the network!”
With that enthusiastic greeting to a packed audience of students in the Hollins Theatre, Judy Lambeth ’73 kicked off the opening session of the university’s sixth annual Career Connection Conference (C3), held October 23. Seventy-nine Hollins alumnae from a variety of fields returned to campus to talk about how they have translated their liberal arts education into satisfying careers. They also provided tips, tools, and tricks of the trade to land that first job.
“By attending Hollins, you are now a member of our alumnae network,” said Lambeth, who chairs Hollins’ Board of Trustees as well as the university’s alumnae engagement initiative. “That’s a community of highly intelligent, independent-minded, audacious women who are here today to help you in any way they can. We believe passionately that Hollins prepared us well for fulfilling lives and careers, and our education continues to enrich us every single day. Being a member of the Hollins community is a lifelong gift, and we are grateful for that. So, we want to give back by having your back. We are here today specifically to support you. We want you to soar, we want you to love whatever life throws at you and embrace it.”
During C3, students and alumnae engaged in the following events:
- Interactive sessions featuring career women from the sciences, writing and publishing, business, financial services, education, law, visual and performing arts, and public service.
- Special topics designed to facilitate alumnae testimonials and communicate practical skill sets. Highlights included building an effective resume, money matters, and life after Hollins, among others.
- “Speed networking” with a large number of alumnae, as well meeting one-on-one through mock interviews, resume critiques, and conversations about the graduate school application process.
- Small group discussions after the conference on a variety of topics, including diversity in the workplace.
Tina Wells, CEO and founder of Buzz Marketing Group, was this year’s C3 keynote speaker. Wells’ agency creates marketing strategies for clients within the beauty, entertainment, fashion, financial, and lifestyle sectors. She has spent nearly two decades connecting influencers and consumers to brand clients.
Wells’ address focused on the theme “What’s Next?” and offered “a little handbook you can use to figure out how to build those first ten years post-college, because the life I enjoy today is due to the work I did in those first ten years.” She noted the importance of “developing that personal network, that personal board of directors that helps you make those key decisions and who holds you accountable. ‘Does this make sense?’ ‘Am I showing up authentically?’ ‘Am I doing what I’m supposed to be doing?’ Who better than your peers to call you on that.”
Wells encouraged students to join professional associations (“Is the industry you’re in on the rise or declining? Where are the jobs going to be over the next five years? These associations have all that information.”) as well as social clubs (“Too often when we graduate we think we have to be serious people and forget that we need to have fun.”). She also recommended creating a group of five like-minded peers (“Meet monthly with a group of people who have similar goals and visions and think about the world in a specific way. Be committed and helpful to one another and give each other tools. Don’t be competitive, but hold each other responsible for meeting goals.”).
Wells also emphasized her personal philosophy, “You can’t make withdrawals where you haven’t made deposits. Never go into a situation saying, ‘Can you give me….’ or ‘Can I pick your brain?’ There is always something you can do. Constantly ask yourself, ‘Am I making a request or am I contributing? How do I contribute the most to the places that matter the most to me?'”
In that vein, Lambeth urged students to share their own personal and professional experiences in the years to come. “We’re hoping you’ll change the world and we’re also hoping that on some future day, when you’ve found your career path, please come back to Hollins, attend a Career Connections Conference, and do the same thing for another generation of Hollins students.”
Photo caption: Tina Wells, CEO and founder of Buzz Marketing Group, was the keynote speaker for Hollins’ sixth annual Career Connection Conference (C3).
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