Calling and Career Conference: The Imperfect Path to a Career

While most of the campus slept in last Saturday morning, over 100 sophomores, juniors and seniors rose early to catch the bus for the third annual Calling and Career Conference (CCC) organized by the Career and Connection Institute (CCI) and the Office of Student Life. This year, in addition to providing students with insights about the professional world, the conference shed light on a few common postgrad struggles: What happens when you don’t have a job lined up after graduation or when your first job isn’t one you like?

“It’s important to understand how challenging those first two years out of school are,” said Matt Vaselkiv, the conference’s coordinator. “This year our goal was to equip students for that.”

Because no one is more qualified to speak on this subject than recent graduates, CCC hosted a young alumni panel featuring Sam Sherratt ’15 of Elucida Research LLC, Aaron Terjanian ’16 of Morgan Stanley and Bailey Grinnell ’16 of Massachusetts General Hospital. Each panelist shared about their first few years after graduation, and explained to students that it’s perfectly normal if their first professional jobs aren’t a perfect fit.

“I loved my first year out, but it’s not easy,” Grinnell admitted. “The first job you get out of college is not going to be your last job. Having things you dislike in your first job motivates you to say: How can I get to the next step where I can do more of what I really like doing?”

For the keynote address, Bethany Jenkins—vice president of forums and content at The Veritas Forum and contributor for The Gospel Coalition— challenged the common adage, “follow your passion,” so that students might come to think about their career and calling in a less individualized way.

“The question: ‘Will my work bring me passion?’ is pretty self-centered,” she said. “It’s all about you. A better question is: ‘What can I do to serve my neighbor in the work I’m called to do?’”

Throughout a day of personality tests, résumé workshops, mock interviews, industry-specific alumni panels and a final networking session, students had the chance to meet with over 30 professionals from companies like Spotify, Harvard Medical School and Goldman Sachs.

“During the industry panel for education majors I learned that I for sure want to be a teacher,” Miranda Grubb ’21 said. “I am relieved to know that it’s not going to be a straight-forward path to my career, and that’s okay.”

On February 9, CCI and Student Life will host another Calling and Career Conference for students who missed the November event. Registration is open to all classes on Handshake. Alumni who are interested in being a part of the February conference may contact the coordinator, Matt Vaselkiv at [email protected].

By Sydney Cooney ’19, English language and literature