February 19, 2021
By Rachael Blaine ’21
Susquehanna University’s annual Break Through event, like many current events, has adapted in the age of Covid-19. Offered in a virtual format for 2021, the annual networking conference incorporated technology software to connect students with alumni.
“The pandemic has changed the rules of the game,” said Aminata “Mimi” Diallo ’19, the speaker at Break Through’s keynote event, Connection in the Age of Disconnection: Networking During a Pandemic.
Diallo discussed her experiences at Break Through when she was a student, including how the event helped her gain confidence by networking in a supportive environment. “The people you meet today have been in your shoes. Be confident and know we are all rooting for you,” she said.
During her remarks, Diallo shared how she met Orville “JR” Reynolds ’00, who was working as the assistant district attorney in the Bronx at the time, which happened to be Diallo’s home district. After talking with him during Break Through, Diallo followed up with Reynolds and built a relationship with him. Reynolds invited Diallo to shadow him. As a political science student, she agreed readily. Although she did not end up working for Reynolds, she cites the experience and her relationship with Reynolds as an important part of teaching her about networking.
“We encourage students to approach networking like it’s a class,” said Allie Grill, associate director of employer engagement at the Career Development Center and one of the organizers of Break Through. “Set goals and a consistent schedule. Consistency creates habits, which creates a culture.”
The CDC is dedicated to helping create this culture. Aside from organizing networking events like Break Through for students and alumni, they provide support in areas like job and internship searches, fellowship and graduate school advising, career exploration, and enrichment funding, which helps students participate in internships, volunteer experiences and research opportunities.
“In terms of how we support students and alumni,” explained Michaeline Shuman, the CDC’s director of career development, “much of what we do connects directly to our mission: the Career Development Center empowers students and graduates to put learning into practice, impact community and achieve professional goals in partnership with on-campus and external stakeholders.”