Under Construction helps students network
Students of the Dietrich College of Humanities & Social Sciences filed into the University Center’s Rangos Hall Saturday morning, wearing neat business casual attire — for the most part — after an email from Siriana Abboud, sophomore psychology and French double major, warned that “Wrinkled is good for raisins, but not for respect.”
Abboud was one of the organizers of Under Construction: Building Your Future, the second annual Dietrich College career-building event. Under Construction began at 10:30 a.m. and lasted until 5:30 p.m., and included a keynote speech, panels, and a networking session complete with hors d’oeuvres.
Students reported to Rangos Hall first for a welcome by the Dean of Dietrich College John Lehoczky.
“Today, this Under Construction event is a whole new approach to building your career, whether you’re a sophomore, junior, or senior” Lehoczky said. “Today we have over 60 H&SS alums, who have come back just to support you.”
Lehoczky stressed that the Dietrich College alumni who returned to Pittsburgh for the event were the key to Under Construction’s success. “Not only do [these alumni] represent a huge range of different career paths — from advertising to international development to health care to creative arts and entertainment — but most importantly they are H&SS graduates,” Lehoczky said. “They understand your college experience and your career search dilemma. They fully understand the challenges, because they faced exactly those challenges when they were students here. They are volunteering to be resources for you.”
Lehoczky also introduced Under Construction’s keynote speaker, Terry Babcock-Lumish (H&SS ‘97). Babcock-Lumish graduated from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences with a B.S. in policy and management. She is currently president of Islay Consulting LLC, “an economic, policy, and political consultancy she founded in 2005 to meet the needs of innovative global clients committed to effecting positive change, from local to global,” according to the event’s program.
Babcock-Lumish broke her advice into three discrete lessons. Babock-Lumish’s first adage was “semper gumby,” meaning “always flexible.” Babcock-Lumish warned students against planning their lives down to the moment; she stressed how important it is to adapt to unexpected circumstances.
Babcock-Lumish gave the example of meeting her husband as an unexpected event that changed her life. “He was not in the plan,” she said. “We can’t plan for everything in life, like falling in love with someone that was geographically inconvenient, who also has a turbo career and their own timeline.”
Babcock-Lumish next advised students to look past how they're represented on paper and worry more about following their passions. “The reality is, we’ve got to fall in love with you in two dimensions with that résumé, before we can ever meet you and invite you to the interview to fall in love with you in three dimensions," Babcock-Lumish said.
The keynote speaker’s last lesson was a simple reminder that undergraduates and alumni alike were still “under construction,” comparing them to the construction site that was the University Center when she graduated in 1997. “Regardless of where we are in our lives, in our careers, we are all under construction,” Babcock-Lumish said.
After the keynote speech, Dietrich students engaged in lunchtime discussions with Dietrich College alumni at tables that were divided by industries.
Following the lunch and keynote speech, Under Construction attendees went to two panels they had chosen when they registered, on topics ranging from technology to editing and publishing to public health, health policy, and health professions. In each of these panels, a few alumni spoke about their experiences and how undergradutes can get started in the field.
The next piece of Under Construction was a student internship panel, in which five undergraduate Dietrich students, including sophomore international relations and politics major Noël Um, senior economics and professional writing double major Zaneta Grant, junior professional writing major Lauren Williams, senior economics major Michael Shin, and senior ethics, history, and public policy major Lara Dorko, spoke about their own internship experiences.
Finally, students networked with alumni back in Rangos Hall while eating finger foods.
Sanjana Baldwa, sophomore psychology major, said she thought Under Construction was a good effort on behalf of Dietrich College to help students network and see what they can do with their degrees in the humanities and social sciences. “I really liked all of the different alumni; I think it was really cool to hear all of their different stories, and see what they do,” Baldwa said. “It was a good event for networking — just things to look out for and people to reach out to if [students] need a mentor or something.”