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Career Connections

Darcy Martin '05 (right) hands her business card to Melissa Durfee '89.

David Parry '09, hopes an eight hour round trip drive will land him his first job.

Parry, who is from Gloversville, N.Y., attended WPI's Alumni Networking Breakfast in Boston on Aug. 12 to gain some insights from alumni and possibly a few job leads. He's looking for mechanical design positions in New York or New England.

"I graduated in May and I'm still looking. I figured I'd come out here and try any good leads I get. I've applied to more than 50 places and I've gotten a couple of responses," Parry said. "I was excited when I heard about this event so I came out. I figure that driving the eight or nine hours is worth it if I get some job leads."

More than 50 people attended the event, held at the Boston Copley Marriott. This was one of several career networking events organized by WPI's Office of Alumni Relations and Career Development Center to assist alumni with job searches and career growth strategies during this challenging economy. Previous events were held in Providence, R.I., Worcester, and Boston/New Hampshire region. More are being planned. Many alumni have participated in these events with the same goal as Parry—to find a position—or to support fellow alumni.

"I want to help other people. I have a connection to WPI," said Ying Becker, '91, PhD, Chemical Engineering. It's a way to give back to the university where she earned her doctorate and where her husband Lee Becker was a computer science professor. He passed away five years ago.

Becker is a vice president of advanced research at State Street Global Advisors in Boston, and knows what it's like to sit on the other side of the job interview desk. She's been involved in hiring and recruiting for years.

"Students are interested in what to do in developing their careers and what people are looking for. I can help my fellow alumni and to engage them," she said. "I also encourage them. If you do love something, enhance yourself. The market will come back. The market always needs young talent."

Mary Kate Toomey, '08 of Worcester, BS Civil Engineering, is a staff engineer with Facility Engineering Associates in Waltham. She attended the breakfast because networking events allow her to stay in touch with the industry.

"It helps me to learn about career management. Everything is so new and things change. Networking helps me to keep myself marketable in my career field," she said. "I used the Career Development Center a lot as an undergraduate. It seems like a very valuable resource that can be used as an alumnus."

The Boston event was the third WPI networking event for Michael Blaney, '79, BS Chemical Engineering, who is job hunting. Blaney was laid off from an auto supplier company over the winter when business dropped by 50 percent.

"I've also been using the alumni group on LinkedIn and AlumniConnect. The AlumniConnect site is great because you can do a background search by company and find where alumni are looking at so you can see the connections. I've found a lot of alumni online and it's been really helpful," he said.

A newly redesigned AlumniConnect site was recently launched. Visit the site and learn more about how to network with fellow alumni online and reconnect with WPI.

The Career Development Center's Connie Horwitz gave alumni tips such as: prepare a 30 second "elevator speech" about you, your resume and your career goals. She encouraged job seekers to have a list of key questions to ask potential employers, to research the industries they want to work in, and to be proactive and find an industry that matches their skills. Horwitz also encouraged them to network via social media sites such as AlumniConnect and LinkedIn, among previous colleagues, with people in their communities, and at WPI events such as Homecoming. Informational meetings with personal connections or persons in the industry are also an important resource. A job lead can come from anywhere.

"Networking means building relationships, not just one touch point, but many," Horwitz said. "You want to go and become a familiar face. And as a familiar face, you can find people who are comfortable sharing what they know with you."

August 20, 2009

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