At a summer networking event, Surita Basu ’23 was relieved to hear from Cornell alumni whose careers have gone in many different directions.
“It definitely reinforces the idea that your first position out of college does not have to determine what kind of work you will do for the rest of your career and that it is always possible to challenge yourself and try new things,” said Basu, an economics and government major. She attended three of this summer’s Arts & Sciences Career Connections Committee (ASCCC) events, normally held in person in New York City and Washington, D.C., but all held virtually this summer because of the pandemic.
Basu said she gained important insights.
“The great thing about making connections with Cornell alumni is that we are already part of a great community and they have been in our shoes at one point,” she said. “Additionally, there are Cornell alums pursuing successful careers in almost every industry, so it is a great way to learn about different career opportunities.”
Alumni involved with the events — which focus on finance, law, media, government & policy and healthcare.— come from a variety of majors and career pathways. but they share a common interest in supporting students as they explore their futures. The events are sponsored by the committee, Arts & Sciences Career Development and Arts & Sciences Alumni Affairs & Development.
Andrew Cavanna ’97, a partner in the healthcare team at the global private equity firm Apax, led the finance team event and also participated in the healthcare event.
“I want students to feel like they can pursue a liberal arts education and explore their academic interests, yet through the College they can have the support and mentorship they need to navigate getting into the professional world,” said Cavanna, who majored in economics and government. “I tend to see liberal arts students thinking more creatively and in a slightly different way than undergrad busines majors. They are problem solvers.”
Daisy Torres-Baez ’05, diversity programs coordinator for Weill Cornell Medicine’s Diversity Center of Excellence, participates to return a favor from an alumna she met as she was starting Cornell.
“I talked to her about the options beyond what I saw as a first-generation undergrad,” she said. “She told me not to limit myself.”
Torres-Baez, who majored in sociology, often shares her career path with students – which has traversed the non-profit sector, government and now education.
“I think it’s helpful for them to hear where I’ve been and to know it’s OK not to know where you’re going right now,” she said. ”I want to give them a safe space to ask questions without being judged.”
Many premed students shared their anxiety about the ways the pandemic has limited their abilities to do research or accumulate clinical hours. They asked Torres-Baez for advice about getting into medical school.
“I tried to ease their concerns, encourage them to think of other ways they’re interacting with people,” she said. “This was a great opportunity to give back.”
The next series of ASCCC events, career panels, will take place during winter break. More information for students interested in those events will be available later this fall on the career development website.