April 24, 2015
What began as a weeklong alumni and student networking conference three years ago is now breaking new ground for students in a variety of ways. A case in point is Michael Leniw, a sophomore finance major from Mahwah, N.J., who participated in Break Through ... to Life After Graduation programs both on and off campus.
Leniw was among the group of students who participated in the Break Through bus trip to New York City in October. There he toured Goldman Sachs headquarters with host and Susquehanna graduate Jason Eck, a vice president in finance at the powerhouse investment banking company.
"Visiting Goldman Sachs on the Break Through trip was an incredible experience," Leniw said. "Seeing that people who went to Susquehanna were working in the heart of New York City at a huge skyscraper across the street from the Freedom Tower really bolstered my motivation to work there myself."
The visit prompted Eck and his Goldman Sachs colleagues Brian Spellman and Kevin Barkow-also Susquehanna graduates-to return to Susquehanna a couple weeks later for a day of classroom visits, small-group meetings and one-on-one interview prep with students. While on campus, Eck, Spellman and Barkow espoused the can-do determination and preparedness for which Susquehannans are known. The professionals talked to students about their career paths and how they can best prepare to launch their own.
"A lot of people don't do the simple things," Barkow said, noting that students don't always realize the importance of preparation when it comes to an interview. Eck agreed, saying that doing mock interviews is a critical component of interview prep.
The men couldn't overstate the importance of networking either. "If you want a job, you have to network, make cold calls, whatever it takes," Eck said.
Spellman, who's 25 years into his career, said he still goes to professional conferences so he can meet new people and keep up with trends in his field. And it's paid off several times over, including helping him land his job at Goldman Sachs.
Leniw, who had his eye on Goldman Sachs' highly competitive summer internship program, understands the importance of networking and jumped at the chance to meet individually with the alumni for a résumé review and general interview tips. And once Leniw was ready to interview for Goldman Sachs' select internship program, the alumni took the time to offer him more specific advice about interviewing for the company.
Unfortunately, Leniw didn't walk away from his interview with a summer internship in hand but a little disappointment never stopped a Susquehannan. Exemplifying the tenacity that the alumni promoted last fall while on campus, Leniw plans to try again next year. In the meantime, he's working with the Career Development Center and other Susquehanna alumni to land "at least one internship" this summer.