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First Career Networking Event

Friday 11th June 2010

On a warm evening in mid-June, 14 final-year Darwin students got together with five Darwin alumni for an unusual event: the first Darwin College Career Network evening, organised by the Darwin College Society in collaboration with the DCSA.

The idea behind the event was simple: Darwin has many alumni who have developed successful careers in their chosen fields and whose experience can be of enormous value to our current students, who are only just starting out on their own career paths. The Darwin College Career Network arranges "speed dating" sessions at which students can have short face to face meetings with alumni who work in their fields of interest. Out of these initial contacts can come useful hints and tips, valuable contacts and perhaps even an ongoing mentoring relationship. The first Career Network evening focused on the life sciences and was extremely well received by both the students and the alumni, many of whom attended Formal Hall afterwards to continue their discussions over dinner and drinks. The particular novelty of the evening was a computer set up so that Dr David Kreil could participate from Austria over a voice and vision link.

The DCS and DCSA are eager to hear from students and alumni who would like to participate in future Career Network events, irrespective of your field of study or work. The next one is likely to focus on careers in business, but we're open to suggestions from all quarters. Contact your DCSA rep or Alex Smeets of the Darwin College Society (asmeets@sky.com).




How useful were the meetings to you?
The students in general found the meeting extremely useful and informative. One of the students said that just to have the chance to speak to an alumni for a few minutes in a directed way about the career prospects and options coming out of Cambridge was very valuable, and he learned a lot in a very short period of time with that. Another student said that we had only two alumni that had left science, so it would have been more interesting if a wider variety of jobs (outside of science) were represented.
Will you be following any of them up by communicating further with the alumni?
Some of students said they will get in touch again with Dr. David Kreil, as he offered the students to visit his lab in Vienna sometime. Others said they will contact Dr. Alex Freelove, who gave all the space for that. And others said they found the meeting with Dr. Felicia Huppert quite useful and they will be following it up by email in asking her advice on various postdoctoral opportunities.
Was the organization of the event OK?
All of them answered YES.
Was the 10-minute duration of the meeting OK? If not, how long would you have liked them to be?
Most of the students said 10 minutes was all right. One student suggested to have 15 minutes, maybe 10-minute meeting with an extra 5 minutes to either continue the discussion or get up and have a quick break/drink/chat with the others in the room. Other student said it would be good to follow up with a second, longer/more informal meeting over tea/coffee/lunchtime for people who would like longer to chat to alumni than the allotted 10 minutes.
Was the timing of the meetings (on Friday just before Formal Dinner) OK? If not, what else would you suggest? Was it the right time of year to hold such an event? If not, what time of year would have worked better for you?
Some students suggested having these types of events throughout the year, so maintaining a calendar of such events for subject groups would certainly be a good idea. Other students suggested having it on September, after they submit their PhD thesis, so they can focus more on their future career.

(Our thanks go to Alex Smeets and Carol Baltar for their enormous enthusiasm and work)

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