Thirteen Houghton students traveled to Buffalo for a networking event hosted by the Vocational Opportunities and Career Advising Center (VOCA) and the Office of Alumni Engagement. Buffalo has a very high concentration of Houghton alumni who are intentional with maintaining strong relationships with the college.
The Monday, March 20 event focused on five career areas: communication/marketing, nonprofit and human services, business/finance, data science, and human resources. The day began with a panel discussion, where four alumni from the Buffalo area offered advice on transferring from Houghton to the real world and tips on what to do now to prepare for the future. Some recommendations included finding mentors, investing in relationships with current professors, and asking God for guidance. Students were also given a tour of the Houghton College Buffalo site, where the dean of the program, Cameron Airhart, shared how the program offers education to refugees in Buffalo and the way God is at work. Following the tour was a luncheon where students could engage with alumni in smaller groups to ask questions about their specific careers.
After lunch, the students departed for their first site visits of the day. A few students went to Jericho Road, which provides medical care to refugees and low-income families. Students interested in the areas of healthcare and human services had an opportunity to engage with people in their desired field. The rest of the group went to New Era Cap Co. Inc., the official cap provider for the MLB, NFL, NBA, and WNBA, where a panel of employees discussed the company, their positions, and provided career advice. Students met back up at Upstate New York Transplant Services (UNYTS), where a representative presented about the organization and employees in the five career areas met with students.
Erik Sorensen ’20 found the trip particularly beneficial. “I gained a greater understanding of what companies are looking for in data science,” he said. “They are looking for someone who can communicate with others and who have a great personality. ‘Attitude over aptitude’ as Fil Szabluk, the Senior IT Manager for New Era, put it.”
The students found the event to be a huge success. Aaron Eisenhardt ’17 said, “I enjoyed meeting with recent Houghton graduates and hearing their perspectives on how they handled transitioning from the Houghton bubble into the real world. Seeing how employees perceive working for nonprofit organizations versus working for regular companies was eye opening. If you are ever presented with the opportunity to network, I recommend taking full advantage of it.”