The Stony Brook University Career Center held a new-and-improved Conquer Your Career Week from October 24 to October 27 in the Student Activities Center, where students were able to attend a series of workshops to help them learn life skills in preparation for the rest of their academic and professional lives.
The week’s events occurred across four evening sessions, each one using a different approach to make career exploration less intimidating and to give them tools to overcome those fears. More than 200 students attended the workshops, 197 of whom were first-year students and sophomores. The week also included a scavenger hunt where career fact cards were located in offices around campus including Undergraduate Colleges, Academic and Transfer Services, Center for Prevention and Outreach, and the Career Center. Students who completed the scavenger hunt and attended one of the events received a Career Center T-shirt.
“The first Conquer Your Career Week is a rebranded and expanded Career Exploration Week from last year,” said Natalie Korba, the exploring career coach at the Career Center, who developed the concept for Conquer Your Career Week and built out the curriculum for each presentation. “When developing each topic, I focused on being able to assist students who have not previously been exposed to careers with discovering strategies for career research. This allowed them to find different opportunities that align with their skills and interests, which is especially important for first-year students.”
The first workshop was “Conquer: Choosing Your Major,” which was designed to dispel indecisiveness with new students who haven’t declared a major. The main exercise was mind mapping, where participants reflected on their current life experiences to better understand their interests and strengths. This prompted participants to compare these thoughts with potential majors to decide what aligns best.
The second workshop was “Conquer: Career FOMO,” which addressed concerns relating to living life to its fullest potential. The exercise made use of Odyssey Planning, where participants come up with three versions of their lives. In Version 1, participants describe their current path professionally and personally. Version 2 is what they would do if Version 1 didn’t exist and they had to choose a different path. Version 3 is what life they would live if they had no constraints at all. Once all three versions have been made, the students review these options to see what between the three can they pursue.
The third workshop was “Conquer: Fear of Failure.” Students challenged their fears by understanding them in the “30 circles” exercise, where they had only 3 minutes to draw 30 distinct objects to explore how they feel getting stuck. The second half of the workshop addressed their anxieties with positive reinforcement. Participants wrote affirmations on cards and put them on a board, then they took one back that they liked. Students who attended this event left with increased confidence and a shifted mindset around the concept of failure and how it impacts their careers.
“It was great developing these workshops with my co-intern Amanda,” said Pelin Bozok, a peer career coach intern at the Career Center. “It allowed us to work with students and share our own experiences with the fear of failure. It was a great opportunity to connect with students and bring new ideas to the table.”
The fourth workshop,“Conquer: Procrastination,” was co-hosted by the Center for Prevention and Outreach (CPO) and shared strategies for avoiding procrastination and improving productivity. The main activity was mind mapping, where facilitators Natalie Korba from the Career Center and Danielle Merolla from CPO had students ask themselves, “What am I currently procrastinating on, what are strategies I could use that do or do not work?” The group shared ideas on how to overcome it and ended on a mindfulness exercise.
“We included a lot more life design concepts in the program this year. Life design is a problem-solving approach for really significant ‘people-problems.’ It’s more than connecting people to resources, it’s giving them tools they need to be successful,” shared Korba.
— Joseph D’Alessandro and Nayrelin Rubio