Building career connections in New York City

St. Olaf students on the New York Connections Program visited the offices of The New York Times, where they spoke with Graphics Editor Amanda Cox ’01 and Assistant Business and Financial Editor Gretchen Morgenson ’76.

New York City may be thousands of miles away from Northfield, Minnesota, but St. Olaf College students attending the recent New York Connections trip found a thriving and engaged Ole community despite the distance.

“These alumni reminded me that even though St. Olaf is a small Minnesota college, we have a wide reach of influence,” says Aaron Lauby ’19, who hails from the Chicago area.

The program in New York, offered through the St. Olaf Piper Center for Vocation and Career, offered 35 students the chance to meet with alumni and employers and visit places like The New York Times, New Amsterdam Theatre, and the New York Stock Exchange.

“Everyone I spoke to was so helpful in the assistance they offered, and genuinely cared about my life on the Hill and beyond,” Dylan Walker ’18 adds. “Their advice was so necessary, and I learned things on the trip that I have yet to stop thinking about.”

St. Olaf students (from left) Sara Albertson ’18, Aaron Lauby ’19, and Christine Menge ’18 speak with Alisha Spielmann ’03 about a career in the performing arts as part of the New York Connections Program.

The trip was part of the Piper Center for Vocation and Career’s Connections Program, which enables students to explore careers and network with alumni in cities across the country. It’s one of a number of programs and resources the Piper Center offers to help students leverage their liberal arts education to achieve their full potential.  

In addition to New York, the Piper Center offers Connections Programs in Washington, D.C.; Seattle, Portland, Boston, Denver, San Francisco, Madison, and Chicago. The career tracks change with each city.

The New York Connections Program was designed with three tracks available to students: journalism and publishing, visual and performing arts, and business/finance.

Students interested in publishing were able to visit Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster and meet with a panel of recent grads working in publishing.

“So much of the industry is founded through networking, so it’s important to make those contacts,” Kit Stookey ’18 says. “I got a way better idea of what it’s like to work in publishing, and even some idea of where it’s probably going.”

St. Olaf students interested in careers in business and finance spend time at the New York Stock Exchange as part of the Connections Program.

Accomplished actor and screenwriter David Rysdahl ’09 was one of the notable alumni who were able to sit down and discuss the transition from St. Olaf to New York with students.

“Our shared background as Oles made a quick and meaningful connection possible and set the groundwork for a further ongoing conversation,” says Lauby, himself a theater major.

Other alumni connections included New York Times Pulitzer Prize winning Assistant Business and Financial Editor Gretchen Morgenson ’76;  Associate Music Director for Aladdin Aron Accurso ’01; and JCRA Financial CEO William Kloehn ’83.

“I feel more confident about my ability to live in such a large city,” Walker says. “And now I know that there is a network of Oles who would support me if and/or when I decide to make the move out there.”

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