By Stephen Wilson

Sometimes all it takes is a missing piece to help see a bigger picture and a path forward. 

Gateway Career Center helped participants envision a future at its annual Sophomore Surge event, offering second-year students a program specifically designed to help them meet with alumni from leading companies and industries whose backgrounds illustrate the power of career exploration and the Lafayette connection.

Connections and exploration were easily made at the event as over 100 students met with alumni in a range of fields.

Why a surge at this point in their college career?

“Sophomores are in a unique place in their career exploration,” says Alana Klass, senior associate director at Gateway Career Center. “Many first-year students actively build résumés and seek advice on potential majors, but when sophomores, they are not actively seeking internships like the juniors or interviewing for positions or applying to graduate programs like seniors.”

Sophomore Surge helps inspire them to keep exploring.

Inspiration was easy with keynote presenter Daniel Reynolds ’08, editor of social media for The Advocate. His address in part discussed his college experience as a gay student, which was shared in a recent edition of the Lafayette College alumni magazine.

“There’s value in representation,” says Reynolds. “As a gay student, I struggled to fit into Lafayette College’s culture. I hope others who feel similarly today can see how ‘it gets better’ and how they themselves have the power to make the world better for others.

“Preparing for the keynote address gave me the opportunity to reflect on how my college experience sparked my interest in social justice and writing, which ultimately led to my career. Being asked to speak was also wonderful affirmation for my postgraduate life!”

Zoom image from Sophomore Surge eventOther alumni were also on hand to share how their college experience impacted their career paths. One returning panelist was Chris Shumeyko ’10, who works at the Department of Defense Joint Artificial Intelligence Center.

“Events like Sophomore Surge are so rewarding as an alum,” says Shumeyko. “Being able to share my experiences with students in the hopes that it will better position them for success in their careers is exciting.

“It was critical to share with students that failure can be beneficial to a career. When I found my dream job and didn’t get it, it opened up so many more opportunities that led me to where I am today. It was important that students understand the value of taking a risk and regardless of outcome.”

Other alumni panelists included:

Mike Baumwoll ’09
Ayleen Correa ’19
Sydney Edelson ’19
Matt Grandin ’12
Laquan Lightfoot ’08
Nalishha Mehta ’98
Jill Nentwig ’11
Matt Pagano ’09
Alexandra Rau ’08
Fanessa de la Rosa ’19
Greg Troutman ’13
Abby Williams ’15

All sat on alumni panels that discussed topics like career paths, experiential learning, and pursuit of an advanced degree.

“We hope the sophomores who participated now see this year as a crucial moment to build momentum and relationships for their last two years on campus while also recognizing the power and support of our alumni community,” says Klass.

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