By Rebecca Bowyer
Words of wisdom spilled from the closed doors of the Fleishman Center for Career and Professional Development and into the hallway as alumni and students spent several hours mingling and swapping stories to kick off Homecoming Weekend.
The annual networking event drew more than a dozen Harpur College alumni who were eager to help and answer questions for the young college students in attendance.
“Events like this warm you up for what it’s like in the real world, to be put on the spot with somebody and have to sit and tell them about what you do,” said Emily Toner ’14, surveying the crowded room. “Having to sit and practice your ‘elevator speech.’ It brings people out of their shell.”
As a recent graduate, Toner said she was excited to get back onto campus and talk to students about her career as an associate with Sabre Real Estate.
“Binghamton was my home for four years so coming back — having been in their shoes and knowing I wanted to do real estate and having no one there to talk to about it — I figured I’d put myself out there,” Toner said. “I knew people were interested.”
Toner maintains that Harpur College gave her the push in the right direction and gave her the opportunity to find her niche.
“Being in Harpur, you’re given a different perspective. You’re able to see the science side of things and pick everyone’s brain and get a whole encompassing perspective of what’s going on in life, and in the university,” Toner said.
Toner was not the only alum on hand to speak of their appreciation for Harpur’s flexibility. Many spoke of how the college was able to help them reach the point they are at now.
Danielle Britton received her undergraduate degree in 2006 and earned her master’s degree in 2008. She is now the director of education at The Roberson Museum and Science Center in downtown Binghamton. Britton reiterated to students that their diverse selection of classes could only help them in their job search.
“While my degree is in biology, I am also doing history, art and other sciences,” Britton said. “It was good to have a wide variety of classes and background knowledge going into it.” For Britton, her positive experience as a visiting alumna in 2013 encouraged her to come back and talk to current Harpur College students again.
“I came last year and it was nice to talk to students about what they wanted to do, where they might need help figuring out what they want to do, encouraging them to look for internships and volunteer experience,” she said. The crowd included senior consultants, economics professors, technical support associates and even graduates who stayed and took positions at Binghamton University.
Every one of the visiting alums drew a group of more than five students to them, all gathering around and exchanging stories with genuine interest. Students quickly shed their nerves and made specific points of wringing as much information from the guests as possible.
“All I hear in college is that you have to network. Networking is everything. Get out there. Get names. Get emails. I figure: ‘Why not start early,’” said Alexandra “Sasha” Dolgetta, freshman biology major from Westchester. “I figured I’d see if there were people from the medical field or biology field and get experience. See how their work is going, just to talk to people.”
Dolgetta is a member of the Binghamton University Scholars Program and thought she had a pretty good idea of what she wanted to do with her life. Her experiences in Harpur College thus far have tweaked her once-solid future plans.
“Now I’m here. I’m thinking: Do I even want to go to med school? As of now I’m not pre-med and I thought I would be. My mind is starting to change. I’m open to new opportunities so I’m going to see what I like,” Dolgetta said, shrugging her shoulders.
Dogletta is not the only Harpur College student weighing her options.
Maria McQuade is an undeclared freshman from Monroe, N.Y. She went to the networking event to give herself a sense of direction.
“I’m undecided and I thought that going to this event where there are former Binghamton students that have been through this before and graduated. … Talking to them I can get advice and see where the school can take me opportunity-wise,” McQuade said.
Ashley Serbonich, ’06, MA ’07 echoed this point.
“A lot of students don’t know where to begin, and don’t know who to seek out on certain information or topics or resources,” she said. “Events like this connect them with a network of professionals and peers that can really help them in their time here and beyond.” Serbonich is the assistant to the director of external scholarships on campus and did her undergraduate and graduate degrees at Binghamton University. She had several words of advice for students who hit the panic button when they can’t narrow down what they want to do.
“It doesn’t matter what major you have for your profession, as long as you’re bringing the skills and experiences with you, that’s what’s important,” Serbonich said. “You do not have to major in something specific to realize your aspirations. You want to major in something your confident about and complement it with experiences that can help you in the future.”
For some students this is their first semester on campus, and they are unsure of where the many upcoming months will take them. For Angelique Salizan, a senior majoring in psychology, the winding journey has a finish line in sight. She will have her experiences at Harpur to guide her into the future and possibly into a graduate program on campus.
“I think Binghamton is a great school, it was my number one choice and I transferred in,” she said. “Being here is refreshing.”
Last Updated: 3/1/17