Sorority hosts networking workshop for college community

by Alyssa Gocinski / Beacon Staff • October 9, 2013

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Students engaged in an interactive presentation on networking.
Students engaged in an interactive presentation on networking.

Eager, career-oriented students of all different ages, majors, and backgrounds mingle at Emerson on a daily basis. On Oct. 2, Kappa Gamma Chi taught students to use those networking skills at its first campus-wide professional event. 

The workshop instructed attendees how to effectively use social media and other resources to create a strong network of interpersonal connections, and how to tap into the hidden job market found through sites such as LinkedIn.

Katie Prisco-Buxbaum, Kappa’s professionalism chair and former Beacon staff member, said she felt having the event on campus was essential. 

“These skills are incredibly transferable to any field or major, and I think it is significant that Kappa is expanding our campus outreach to help promote professionalism on campus,” she said.

Danielle Reddy, Kappa alumna and director of annual giving on campus, and Shawnea Frett Ajao, a professional accountant, shared their networking expertise on building strong connections with important, helpful people at the session.

Reddy said she works with the college’s alumni relations office to connect students with alumni in their fields. Ajao professionally helps LinkedIn users amp up their profiles so employers take them seriously.

Through step-by-step illustrations with helpful tips, Reddy and Ajao presented on networking through LinkedIn and interpersonal relations as a practical, advantageous tool for college students.

“I’ve always thought of networking as an obnoxious word,” Reddy said as the opening to her lecture. “But Emerson is such a natural networking place … Emersonians are relationship people.”

Everyday interactions among students at Emerson can easily transform into career-oriented, collaborative networks, Reddy said. Both she and Ajao stressed that networking is all about finding a common denominator and expanding on it.

The majority of the students who attended the workshop said they had LinkedIn accounts, but are not active members due to the complexity of the website. Students said they made profiles for themselves but rarely log on to pursue job opportunities or to find people they may know.

During the event, Ajao taught students how to properly use sites like LinkedIn to put themselves on the job market and connect with influential people who could help with their careers.  

“Building your online personal branding is so important,” she said.

The networking experts encouraged students to keep an open mind, and reassured them connections are everywhere.

Reddy also explained that students can remain part of the campus network even after graduation.

“Alumni are super psyched to talk to students,” she said. “Emersonians are really willing to help other students out.”

Victoria Masteller, a sophomore performing arts major, said this workshop helped her view professional networking as a more accessible and useful tool that will prove to be beneficial in her future career.  

“I had been invited to LinkedIn but I didn’t understand it,” she said. “It felt like junk mail.”

She said the presentation helped her better understand how to use these tools.

“I realize that it’s okay to make basic connections,” Masteller said.

Andrea Gordillo, a senior performing arts major, also said she found the workshop very informative and intriguing.

“[It provided] a depth of specificity for professionalism,” said Gordillo. “It was a great opportunity… it made me more network-minded.”

Kappa Gamma Chi hosts many similar professional events as well as mentor programs with Kappa alumni, but they are usually internal and only open to active sisters, Prisco-Buxbaum said.

Prisco-Buxbaum, a senior political communication major, said she wants to plan more events throughout the semester for the entire Emerson community to participate in. She also said she has revamped Kappa’s workshops so there will be a minimum of one per month.

Kappa will host the $tart$mart Salary Negotiation Workshop, which will address the wage gap between men and women, Prisco-Buxbaum said. She said it will also teach young women to negotiate fair salaries. There will also be a workshop for instruction and guidance on interview and workplace etiquette.

Through these workshops, Prisco-Buxbaum said Kappa Gamma Chi will provide students with the proficiency needed to overcome obstacles they may face in today’s competitive job market. She said she hopes to help them succeed in their careers so that they can become leaders and mentors.

“I wanted to open these workshops up to the Emerson community,” said Prisco-Buxbaum. “As the only local professional sorority on campus, part of our mission is to promote professionalism, especially in young women.”