Colby on the Road introduced
Students gathered with alumni in Boston during JanPlan break to explore careers and build professional relationships.
Over JanPlan break, a group of 18 students spent a day with alumni in the education and nonprofit fields in Portland and Boston as part of the Career Center’s new initiative, Colby on the Road.
“It was a really fantastic day, both being able to learn more about the different types of job opportunities and meeting and networking with alums,” Career Center Assistant Director Leslie Kingsley said.
Kingsley worked with fellow Career Center Assistant Director Shauna Hirshfield to develop Colby on the Road. The program aims to familiarize students with potential career fields, as well as to help them develop crucial networking skills. Kingsley and Hirshfield spent months researching similar programs at other universities and, with the help of Special Assistant to the President Janice Kassman, they contacted alumni at potential sites and organized the inaugural trip.
“I’ve been at Colby for two years now, and this is one of the things that I was absolutely advocating for when I came in early on, so it was amazing to see it come to fruition,” Kingsley said.
Students visited the Cumberland County Child Abuse & Neglect Council in Portland and then continued their trip to Boston, where they attended a lunch panel at Casablanca restaurant in Cambridge, and visited the Greater Boston Food Bank and Jamaica Plain’s MATCH Middle School. The day’s events culminated with a group mixer and panel presentation where students met with alumni in the education and nonprofit fields.
“All of our hosts were alums. I think that’s something that we were really fortunate about….We have such a fantastic alumni base at Colby. They really want to be engaged and interact with Colby students, and I think that’s really fantastic for the foundation of the program,” Kingsley said. Because the participating graduates ranged from seasoned alumni to those who graduated as recently as 2010 and 2011, they were able to provide a range of insight and advice.
According to Kingsley, the students who participated gained invaluable networking skills and enjoyed the exposure to potential career fields. One student is applying to a job through a contact that she made while on the trip. “The positive feedback is definitely the most rewarding, and [we] are very excited to continue the program in the future,” Kingsley said.
Kingsley hopes to ultimately expand the program to include different industries and different regions, citing New York City and Washington D.C. as potential destinations.
Although first-years and seniors alike enjoyed the first Colby on the Road experience, Kingsley hopes to eventually direct the program toward younger students. “One of the goals for this program in the future is to focus it as being an exploration and career immersion type program—really have it focused toward first- and second-year students,” Kingsley said.
Though the first trip was exhausting—the group left campus at 7:30 in the morning and didn’t return until after midnight—“It was one of my best days in this professional area,” Kingsley said. “It was just amazing to see the interaction and engagement with students and [watch] them walk away learning more, building connections and understanding how valuable networking is in their career development process.”