On Saturday Nov. 2, Harry Sudakoff Center was host to a range of speakers in international sectors for the Fourth International Career Seminar. Interested students, alumnae and community members joined together to share a day learning about international careers in anything from diplomacy to opera.
The International Career Seminar is an annual event sponsored by the New College International Studies Department and the Sarasota-Manatee chapter of the United Nations Association of the United States of America (UNA-USA). Nine speakers attended this year’s seminar, coming from places as close as our own campus, in the case of Professors David Gillman and Nat Colletta, and as far as Haiti, where co-founder of non-profit organization “Little Footprints, Big Steps” Morgan Weinberg lives most of the year. Beyond geographic dispersion, speakers also varied in career, background, and outlook.
“We’re going from Ringling College of Art and Design all the way to USF Nursing,” Hicks said about the need for a broad range of topics to be covered in the seminar.
Common threads laced through each of the speakers’ presentations even though they spoke on topics as diverse as they come. Having a plan, being flexible, following your dreams and pursuing meaningful experience were all ways the seminar speakers advised students to become successful in the international sector. Despite coming from different backgrounds, speakers Morgan Weinberg and Kent Kirchner both stressed that success and happiness comes from passion about what you do.
Weinberg never went to college, opting to travel to Haiti to aid earthquake victims as soon as she graduated from high school in Canada. Since then, she has worked with orphaned and neglected children to help them pursue education and become reunited with their families. Her presentation was an emotional description of her hardships and successes in Haiti, with the children who have made such an impact on her life. Speaking slowly and softly, apologizing that she speaks mostly in Creole these days, Weinberg captivated the audience with her inspiring story.
Kirchner, another favorite speaker of the day, told his story of growing up in Sarasota, travelling the world, and feeling stuck when his father told him to get a real, practical job. Avoiding that advice, Kirchner decided to look for a job that would let him do the things he learned were his passions ― travelling and learning about other cultures. A job in the private sector that managed internationally allowed him to do just that. He compared his career path and his life to Canadian foie gras poutine, “a delicious mess of things all on top of cheesy fries.”
College students from the University of South Florida in Sarasota, New College, State College of Florida, and Ringling College all attended the seminar to consider the careers they may pursue after finishing college. High school students from county schools were also invited to attend as a way to start planning and considering their career paths. Finally, New College alumnae and members of the Sarasota community attended to consider career changes or paths to direct their lives internationally.
Co-director of the seminar and New College International Studies Director Barbara Hicks expressed her pleasure at seeing so many attendees from outside of New College. Despite the lower turnout of New College students, Hicks said this year’s seminar had more attendees than in previous years.
New College students have access to a wide spectrum of influential voices right on campus every year during this seminar. Because only one speaker returns every year, John Ericson Chief of Outreach of Human Resources for the United Nations (UN), students can return every year to listen to an array of voices on topics that interest them.
Just before lunch, the seminar took a turn from the more traditional, formal presentation to a captivating show from Kenneth DeCamp, International Mime Performer. His piece was called “Your Head Has a Body” and worked to show the audience the way that their body language, especially their walk, may send messages to the people with whom they interact. As the audience subconsciously pulled back their shoulders and lifted their chins, DeCamp explained how people can use the parts of their bodies that they can control to their advantage.
During lunch and break-out sessions, attendees got the chance to network with the speakers they saw, and ask important questions about how they can pursue an international career.
“The goal of the seminar is to indicate to students how they can build pathways to international careers.” Hicks said.
Students especially got this chance during the break-out sessions, which were three separate groups which split off for a more interactive session with the speakers. Groups were divided into the main topics which had been covered during the day, non-profit work, foreign service and private sector careers. As students met more closely with the speakers, they could ascertain the steps they have to follow to pursue a career in the international arena.
Jean Manes of the U.S. Foreign Service Diplomatic Corps had countless resources for attendees who were interested in representing the U.S. through the State Department. She was one of many speakers who highlighted passion as the most important way to secure a job that will never feel like a job. She described her experiences working three jobs and eating ramen noodles for every meal just so she could take an unpaid internship doing what she loved with the State Department.
Speakers also stressed interdisciplinary education as one of the most important ways to pursue an international career. Adjunct Professor of International Studies Nat Colletta described his experience with never getting a so-called “real job” until he was 32 years old. He spent his twenties gaining real world experience and pursuing education that would allow him to be well-rounded.
Mena Cammett, Senior International Risk Management Analyst at XL Group, showed how her interdisciplinary education allowed her to make a “custom career” mixing all the things that truly interested her and finding a job that fit them afterwards. Thinking that her love of Arabic and Middle Eastern affairs would lead to a job in diplomacy, Cammett realized that she also was interested in business and economics. She was lucky to find a job that allowed her to use her wide range of interests.
The seminar ended with a reception provided by the money allotted to the International Studies department. Over coffee and cookies, seminar speakers and attendees were able to share their thoughts on the state of international careers and the importance of pursuing them in what a few speakers called “a borderless world.”