As part of an ongoing collaboration between Brookdale and the AT&T Pioneers network, eight local professionals working in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) gathered at the Long Branch Higher Education Center on Oct. 11 to host a career development workshop for Brookdale students.
The program, titled “Where Does Your Future Lead?,” enabled students to speak one-on-one with representatives from a variety of career fields and map out an educational path to reach their own goals.
AT&T employees joined with volunteer mentors to answer student questions and provide practical advice on a wide range of topics, including time management, resume building, networking and the benefits of personal and professional goal-setting.
“While it’s called a STEM workshop, it’s really about career exploration and the benefits of succeeding in the classroom,” said adjunct mathematics professor and AT&T employee Pamela Bogdan, who organized the program. “In the future, every career is going to have a STEM component in it. And in a knowledge-based economy, higher education is more important than ever. So our goal is really to facilitate an evening of discussions, featuring professionals who bring in a range of experiences, ages and backgrounds.”
The program began with an address by AT&T sales executive Lauren Henning, who described her own experience as a part-time college student working her way through night school. Today, she said, she has two sons who studied at Brookdale and, despite some challenges along the way, have found careers they are passionate about.
“Even if you don’t know what you want to do at first, there is something out there for you,” said Henning. “I didn’t grow up thinking I was going to work for AT&T, but you keep working and you keep moving forward and you don’t give up on your education, and eventually doors open up for you.”
Throughout the program students were able to participate in breakout sessions with a designated mentor, discussing topics like classroom challenges and their goals for 5 and 10 years down the road. For Kevin Oakley, an Asbury Park resident and prospective Brookdale student, the program served as a valuable opportunity to focus on his future.
“It’s great to be able to see where you want to be and how you want to get there,” said Oakley, who plans to study audio engineering. “Sometimes it can be kind of cloudy, especially at first, so this is a great way to get focused and make sure you stay on track. I think it’s important to get a clearer idea of where you want to be before you actually pursue it.”
The workshop also featured pizza, refreshments and a variety of guest speakers, including Long Branch Higher Education Center director and former Asbury Park mayor Ed Johnson. Speaking on behalf of the college, Johnson encouraged each of the students in attendance to use Brookdale as a resource as they pursue the degree – and career – of their dreams.
“This is just an example of the types of services that we offer throughout the Brookdale system,” said Johnson. “We want you to know that we are here to support you every step of the way.”
Check out more photos from the Career Development Workshop here.