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Career Coaching, Networking ... and Pizza

A Recent Alumni-Student Event Had It All!

Jim Arnoff speaking at event

When Jim Arnoff speaks, he radiates enough energy to make you forget that it’s a blustery December day outside. The certified life/career coach and NYU adjunct instructor recently came to the MakerSpace at Tandon to give lessons in interview skills and the importance of networking a large crowd of aspiring engineers. “I don’t even like to call it interviewing though,” he explained. “I think of it more as having a conversation. You’ll be learning more about a prospective employer at the same time they’re learning more about you.”

Arnoff touched upon such topics as the techniques for gracefully joining a discussion when two people are already talking and the difference subtle word choices can make (saying “I intend to find clean-energy solutions,” for example, rather than “I’ll try to find clean-energy solutions”). When his high-energy talk was over the students fanned out to eat the dinner provided by the Office of Alumni Relations and practice some of the skills they had learned.

Several alumni had volunteered to attend the event to help, and the students — with varying levels of confidence and shyness — approached them to put into practice what Arnoff had taught them.

Reema Albahri, who earned a Civil Engineering degree in 2010, had been a Student Council VP, peer counselor, EG teaching assistant, and co-founder of the NYU Chapter for the Arab American Association of Engineers & Architects at the School of Engineering, saw her participation as a way to both stay involved with her alma mater and “pay it forward.” “The activities I participated in while I was a student were responsible for building leadership skills that have been very important in my life and career,” she said. “And this was a chance to help current students develop some of the skills they will need as they graduate.” Albahri admired the format of the evening. “Having a lesson and then getting a chance to put it into practice right after is very valuable,” she asserted. “That’s similar to what we do as engineers; we learn something and then put it to practical use in the real world.”

Alum Reema Albahri (right) with students

Alum Shintani Sewell (right) with students

Another alum, Nickolai Sampson, who earned a degree in Management of Technology in 2010, is now a human resources professional in the financial services industry. Given his focus on talent management, strategy, and innovation, the event was a natural for him. “As we’re helping the students learn to network, we have a chance to network ourselves,” he said. “It’s important to me to stay connected to fellow alumni and keep current on what’s happening, like the opening of this great MakerSpace.”

Sampson praised the students who had approached him during the event. “They’re bright, eager, and enthusiastic,” he said. “That’s a very good foundation to build on.”

Anthony Concolino (EE ’82), who was Student Council President from  1981 to 1982, has enjoyed a career of more than three decades deploying enterprise technology at such companies as Reuters and Citigroup — and presently at the prestigious NYC- based IT consulting  firm QED National (owned by another prominent alum and former instructor, Colleen Molter). Interviewing, hiring, and managing teams of hundreds of employees made helping out at the event an easy exercise for him. So did the experience of raising three children who are now successful professionals or graduate students. Concolino said, “I’m telling the students here exactly what I’ve told my own kids. And chances are that it’s very similar to what they’ve heard from their own parents; there’s a difference when it comes from an outside person though.”

Concolino developed his talent for career advising back when he walked into the School of Engineering’s career placement office looking for help in finding a summer job and was instead hired for the summer to cold call companies that might have opportunities for new engineers. After that experience, he began helping friends with their resumes and interviewing skills, and he obtained permission from school administrators to take graduate-level management courses while still an undergraduate.

The most important piece of advice he gave to his own children and to anyone he has counseled: Always find a job that plays to your strengths and speaks to what you’re made of.

Combine that with Arnoff’s lessons, and there’s little doubt that the student attendees at the event — one in a series being planned by the Office of Alumni Relations — will soon be on their way to career success and fulfillment.