January 30, 2024 Category: What's New? Our Programs

Brunch and Business: CCP Reunion Highlights Networking Opportunities for Students 

From reconnecting with fellow alumni to networking with new mentors in breakout rooms, this year’s College Connections Program Brunch sparked engagement and enthusiasm among students.  

In years past, the CCP Brunch was centered around reconnecting, socializing and workshops. This year, the format was a bit different. 

Putting Theory into Practice

“We wanted students to put theory into practice and actually use the skills they have learned,” said Bentley Gordon, the College Connections Program Manager. “Instead of a traditional workshop, let’s build on what we started and actually work.” 

Students had the opportunity to network with mentors from different industries. 

Students participated in speed networking sessions with mentors from all different areas of expertise. A software engineer from Google led a technology room while a registered nurse led a healthcare room. The different rooms extended across all disciplines, including sustainability, finance, education and broadcast media production.  

“I believe events where students can practice skills are the most beneficial. It’s one thing to design a workshop where students learn skills, it’s another to create a space where students can hone those skills and develop them,” shared Bentley. 

Establishing Professional Skills

A highlight for many students was the finance and business room. Whether they were studying business or not, students learned a lot about networking and establishing professional skills. Shariff Bukari, a banker at JPMorgan Chase & Co., spoke about finance and business with two other mentors. 

“It was pretty great that we had people from all aspects of the financial and banking world. We had someone from investment banking, project management and consumer banking. It gave students an outlook on all three facets of the industry,” shared Shariff.  

Shariff, a volunteer mentor and CCP alum, led the finance and business room with two other mentors. 

A CCP alum himself, Shariff understands the importance of the program and even volunteers now as a mentor. 

“I was in CCP myself and I know the impact it had on me when I was in high school. It prepared me for applying to college and looking at different careers,” said Shariff. “I know how beneficial it was to be able to have those things clarified.” 

The finance and business room centered their discussion around the ins and outs of the industry and shared tips for creating a resume and applying for internships. Students were encouraged to ask questions and continue conversations over coffee or lunch in the future. 

“We were speaking to the kids about networking and being able to build your brand,” shared Shariff. “The network from The Fresh Air Fund is something we can learn from because just today, we had so many different people from different careers and walks of life.” 

Discovering New Interests

The various networking sessions also motivated students to engage in areas outside of their majors or areas of expertise. Grace, a CCP alum and business management major, shares that she learned more about coding from the technology room and felt encouraged to further explore software development. 

Grace attends Boston College and is studying business management. 

“I took a coding class last semester and wasn’t sure if I should try to continue with it, but hearing the volunteer speak I thought to myself ‘maybe I can connect with this and learn more about it,’” shared Grace. “No careers should be closed off to you fully just yet, and it was great to have this environment to discover that.” 

Students learned about different career opportunities and industries. 

“Students were really engaged with networking at the event. They asked volunteers meaningful questions about their career journey and college experience,” shared Bentley. “They enjoyed it so much that when the event ended, students asks if we can host another networking event soon!” 

Learn more about the College Connections Program and read our blog Life After Graduation: How the College Connections Program Prepares Students for their Futures