Lynn Butcher, President of the University of St Andrews American Foundation, reports back on the first ever New York Careers Forum; organised by the Foundation together with the University’s Careers Centre.
Given that the students would be home in January for the first time ever, the American Foundation decided to try to organize a Career Forum in New York City to help give our students and recent graduates a boost in their job search. With full support from Careers, Alumni Relations and Development, and able volunteers in the US we set to work finding a location, a sponsor (always key for our frugal Scottish university), developing a format, identifying and inviting employers, and getting the word out to our community. Alastair Borthwick ’89, head of Global Commercial Banking for Bank of America Merrill Lynch offered us the Bank of America’s conference center and we were off.
As we began to spread the word through emails and social media, the enthusiasm grew and it was clear that our notion of perhaps 50-60 students and young alumni was way off and, as the day approached, we were at capacity with nearly 190 registered, and had started a waiting list. The St Andrews community in the US is strong and enthusiastic and jumped at the opportunity to network, learn, and job seek. The format we settled on was an hour of networking, with employers set up around the conference center by field, then an hour or so for a panel discussion with top representatives from industries, then another hour of networking. We asked the registrants to submit their CVs in advance as some of the employers, particularly the Bank of America, wanted to review candidates and set up preliminary interviews. In turn, we provided each registrant with an information package containing job seeking advice and contact information on all employers and registrants and biographies of the panelists. All of the employers were, of course, either parents or alumni, and with volunteers from the NY alumni club helping on the day, there was a strong “family” atmosphere as the young people moved around.
The panel was very impressive with Alastair Borthwick of Bank of America; Sheila Hartnett, CEO of Ogilvy Action North America and JWT Action North America (communications); Satoru Murase, Partner, Bingham McCutchen Murase (law); Neil Smith, CEO Promontory Growth and Innovation (consulting); David Speedie, Senior Fellow, Carnegie Council; and Ruth Streeter, Producer of CBS “60 Minutes.” It is a sign of the enthusiasm and loyalty these top people have for St Andrews as alumni and parents that every person we asked to be on the panel accepted. Their insights and advice were well received by the packed audience and they all stayed on for further networking and some one on one talks.
We cannot thank Bank of America enough for their generosity hosting what turned out to be a “sold out” event. We also want to thank all of the employers who came to support our young people, and of course Alumni Relations, Careers and Development. As the day approached, thanks to a raging flu epidemic, there were a number of cancellations but that allowed us to include some prospects from the waiting list so we still ended up with almost 170 students and recent graduates and representatives from 36 different employers ranging from finance and banking to publishing, social media, non-profit, design, technology, consulting, and on and on. We are currently contacting all attendees and employers, asking how we did, what we did right, what we can do better and of course, next year’s event is already in the works.
Keep up to date with the American Foundation here.
We want to ensure that St Andrews students continue to learn and contribute on an international scale –developing themselves as global citizens. Would you like to help us remove the financial barriers to students expanding their studies in America and beyond to improve their employability, broaden their minds, and help shape the leaders of the future? Find out more about the St Andrews Students Abroad project here.