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The 2020 SC&I Mingle Provided An Engaging Career Event for Students
The largest career networking event held at the school yet, the 2020 SC&I Mingle enabled SC&I students to engage with alumni, faculty, and staff to find career information, inspiration, and direction.
Introducing Many New Benefits, the 2020 SC&I Mingle Prepares Students for Career Success

At the sixth and largest career networking event in SC&I’s history, the 2020 SC&I Mingle, held December 2, attracted over 212 participants who engaged with alumni, faculty, and staff to explore career paths they have either dreamed of or just discovered, and gain practical career advice, inspiration, and direction.

Ildi Koczan, SC&I’s assistant director of Student Services for Careers, who organized the event with the assistance of Cheyenne Riel, MI ’21, said they modified the SC&I Mingle greatly this year because of the pandemic. “While we needed to make many changes because of COVID-19, the modifications ended up being a more interactive, therefore more successful and exciting event. For example, because it was held 100% remotely, everyone who wanted to join us could attend regardless of where they live. Students from Arizona, North Carolina, and Hawaii joined us! Our message to students this year was, ‘This is your year! If you haven’t taken the opportunity to join us at a mingle yet, there is nothing to stop you now because it is remote. Be brave, jump, and make new connections!’”

Koczan said, “This year we focused our efforts to bring students an engaging and in-depth career education event, where we were able to demonstrate networking best practices and showcase that they can, in fact, network efficiently even during a pandemic.”

15 dedicated alumni led career-related breakout rooms, and they brought their specific knowledge, expertise, and experience to each room to benefit the students. Koczan explained in an email she sent inviting participants, “If you are interested in becoming a librarian, check out our breakout room #1 to connect with alumni in public, academic, and school librarian positions AND also visit room #3 where you can learn about ‘corporate librarianship’ and what similar jobs in the corporate world would entail.”

A few of the alumni involved included  Josie Faass, Executive Director of the Robert Schalkenbach Foundation; Meaghan Moody MI’ 18, Immersive Technologies Librarian, University of Rochester; Beth Rizzotti, MI ’91, Senior Vice President of Business Information Services, Lee Hecht Harrison; and Peter Sutton, MI ’19, Assistant Audiovisual Archivist, Ford Motor Company Archives.

The SC&I alumni were grateful to the SC&I Mingle because it gave them a way to give back to SC&I,  Koczan said. “Our alumni are very passionate about SC&I students – they remember it wasn’t easy for them when they started out in their fields!”

New this year were a dedicated Dean and SC&I Alumni Association room led by Associate Dean for Administration Karen Novick and Katrina Zwaaf, president of the SC&I Alumni Association. Alumni truly appreciated and enjoyed this new room, Koczan said, because it provided a space where they could interact with the deans.

Also new were the SC&I Career Talks Koczan created to promote the event. Two-minute interviews that captured Koczan interviewing alumni about their careers, they were uploaded to the SC&I YouTube channel and shared with participants before the event. Koczan said, “We wanted to let students know what the SC&I Mingle discussions would be like and how they would benefit from attending. We also didn’t want students to feel intimidated by our alumni – we wanted to be sure they were comfortable speaking with them, which is another reason we created the videos.”

SC&I Dean Jonathan Potter and Associate Dean for Administration Karen Novick kicked off the event together. They welcomed all of the participants and spoke about the importance of networking and our SC&I community.

The participants then heard a keynote presented by University Career Services Toi Tyson, Director of Career Communities and Campus Partnerships, of Rutgers Career Exploration and Success (CES). She discussed best practices for virtual networking.

Koczan said she invited university career services to deliver this year’s keynote “to demonstrate to the students that despite their separation from the Rutgers campus caused by pandemic, the Rutgers community is still working together to help them achieve their career aspirations.”

Following the keynote, students left the main room and went into up to three virtual break out rooms they self-selected. SC&I faculty who participated included Assistant Professor of Professional Practice Mark Beal in the communication room, Professor of Professional Practice Steven Miller in the journalism room, and Professor and Chair Marie Radford in the library room. Student Services staff monitored all of the rooms and used white boards to keep the discussions going. Throughout the breaks they kept everyone engaged by offering fun games to enhance participation levels.

This was considered a truly collaborative event by all involved because it was supported by SC&I alumni, faculty, and staff, and Rutgers University Career Aspiration (Career Exploration and Success)  staff who volunteered to help as well.  A resounding success, between 170 and 212 participants were in each room during the entire event, Koczan said.

Koczan said even after it was over, SC&I students took an extra step to make the 2020 SC&I Mingle even better. “To show how ingenious our students are – during the event they created a google doc to share their contact information, and after the event they emailed it out.”

Learn more about Career Assistance and Support for students at the Rutgers School of Communication and Information on the website

Photo: Courtesy of Ildi Koczan 



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