Building connections at the Capitol

On Oct. 22, more than 30 exceptional St. John’s students embarked on a two-day networking trip to Washington, D.C. that would allow them to explore career possibilities and affirm career goals.The 28th Annual Insider’s View of the Capital, organized flawlessly (save the bus driver with a terrible sense of direction) by the Office of Alumni Relations, allowed students to network with alumni who live and work in the D.C. area to learn about the range of career opportunities available there. Students were immersed in panel discussions with alumni in the fields of law enforcement, government, the military, health care and the non-profit sector.

“The diverse group of students who participated represented the undergraduate, graduate and doctoral level students from all six of our St. John’s schools,” said Andrea Papa, associate director of Student Engagment and Regional Programs for the Office of Alumni Relations. “And the alumni participation in the program was equal to the number of students that came to Washington.”

The program began with a welcome dinner upon arrival in D.C., where students were greeted with opening remarks from Papa, and an Invocation by Rev. Kevin Creagh, C.M., associate vice president for International Site and Alumni Chaplain. After a few words of wisdom from alumna Laura Cranston, chapter leader for the Washington D.C. Alumni Chapter, and alumnus Michael Goldman, Esq., President of the School of Law for the Washington, D.C. Alumni Chapter, on how to make the most of the program, student participant in last year’s Insider’s View and current Law Fellow Joseph Canovas ’08L, spoke about the great impact the program had on his decision to pursue a career in D.C.

“The alumni participants gave us valuable and candid information about living and working here,” he said. “I think if you take advantage of the information and opportunities provided, it will be a productive and enjoyable experience.”

The night ended with a group sightseeing excursion to the Washington Monument, the World War II Memorial and the Jefferson monument, narrated with historical facts by senior Marketing major and Maryland native John Kelly.

The next day’s jam-packed itinerary began with breakfast in the hotel before heading to the Cannon House Office Building for a Legal and Law Enforcement Panel moderated by Brian Browne, St. John’s assistant vice president for Government Relations.

This was followed by an industry and non-profit panel. After each alum shared their wealth of experiences in positions that range from Senior Vice President of the American Cancer Society, Vice Principal of an elementary school and a General Counsel for the CIA, students were given the opportunity to ask questions. Senior Rachel Carbonara, Sociology major, explains that her discussions with alumni motivated her while simultaneously calming some of her anxieties about graduation.

“Meeting these working professionals has made me want to get involved with alumni activities when the time comes, so I can give back too,” she said. “I was really impressed by them and I now know there are actually people out there that can help me once I graduate.”

Later that day was the Networking Reception at the elegant Phoenix Park Hotel, which allowed participants to socialize with alumni in a more relaxed setting.

“The alumni were so supportive and hearing about their success really inspired me,” said Dominic Baccala, Government and Politics major. “The experience also showed me a lot about the world post-college that we have to be prepared for, but it’s not as scary as everyone makes it seem.”

On Friday, the group ventured off to the Department of State, where they were hosted by alumnus Raymond Martinez, Esq., Deputy Chief of Protocol. Students learned about enticing internship and employment opportunities in D.C. and abroad in the areas of human and women’s rights, public diplomacy and educational and cultural affairs, to name a few.

“Visiting the Department of State really opened my eyes to all the possibilities of working and studying internationally,” said Matthew Shoeinstein, Education major. “I’m very interested in applying for one of the scholarships abroad to learn a language intensively.”

The group then traveled to the Longworth House Office Building for a Healthcare Industry Panel, which prompted a stimulating dialogue between students and alumni about the controversial HPV vaccine, and then a final panel on the U.S. Military.

The lunch speaker was alum Thomas Snowden, video editor for the Washington Bureau of NBC Nightly News and The Today Show. Before heading back to New York later that evening, the group enjoyed a tour of the nation’s capitol.

While many of us may have expected to leave Washington with a bit more information about available jobs, snapshots of famous monuments and vivid memories of being on Capitol Hill during such a historic election year, I think I speak for the majority when I say we left with much more. Invigorated and inspired, we left with a better sense of the limitless opportunities afforded to us as soon-to-be St. John’s graduates.