Event Recap: CLAS Career Night Spring 2024

The Spring 2024 College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Career Night was a hit among students. On Monday February 26, 2024, University of Connecticut CLAS alumni Jonathan Costa, Alyssa Varesio, and Annika Redgate, gathered in UConn’s Alumni Foundation Board room and discussed their careers and the paths they took to them.  

The variation of alumni helped to give students different points of views of what work out of college can look like and emphasize how everyone has a different journey. Costa (’04, BA in English) works as a Senior Editor at ESPN with a focus on audience engagement, Varesio (’21, BS in Biology & Spanish) works as a quality engineer at Medtronic, and Redgate (’21, BA in Political Science & Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies) works at Hinckley Allen as a Trusts and Estates Legal Admin.

The event ran in a panel form, with questions being asked by the mediator, then the floor eventually opening to student queries. Below, find three compelling questions asked during the event, and the alumni’s corresponding responses. 

Think back to first starting college, how would you change or add more to what you did? 

Costa advised students that they don’t need to be tailoring their degree to what they want to do after school, and highlighted how students should not feel obligated to commit themselves to the career path they chose when they were 17 or 18 years old.  

Varesio provided a compelling anecdote about her own time in college as a STEM major, noting that she “got bogged down early on.” However, by adding a Spanish major and EEB minor, she was able to focus on curriculum that was interesting to her that also helped to complement her biology degree. Varesio advised students to take classes they are passionate about and wishes that she took the time to explore more of the courses UConn has to offer.  

Redgate, knowing she was always interested in law, decided to take the political science route in college. She talked highly about her experience in a Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies class at UConn, and recommended to the students present that they should sign up for one, as she feels this class helped to shape her as a person. Redgate encouraged students to not “be afraid to do what you want to do” and go after what interests them in life.  

How to navigate networking on social platforms, such as LinkedIn? 

Costa began by noting that most companies view LinkedIn as a secondary aspect to a resume, however; while a resume should be succinct, a LinkedIn profile can be descriptive. For students beginning to reach out, always start with a brief intro and end with a question to make the conversation active. While Costa enjoys students reaching out and asking questions, he expressed that sometimes people may not be responsive. Costa stated that “one of the hardest things to do is to divorce yourself from the idea that no is a bad thing.” Learning how to handle rejection is a major aspect of life, and Costa encourages students to continue to reach out to network with others!  

Varesio’s advice to students was to find a profile that is seemingly active. Through this tactic, the individual is more likely to see your message. She said that in the career world, LinkedIn is the equivalent of Instagram, known as the workplace social media, so it is imperative that you develop your personal brand on the platform and understand what foot you are putting forward. 

Redgate also spotlit the growth of LinkedIn as a social platform and agreed with the premise that it can be overwhelming sometimes having so much information out at once. When making connections, she advised students to include why you are reaching out to the person and include your available times to talk. Redgate also gave a useful tidbit, noting that “if you don’t know what to make your header (photograph), make it a picture of UConn.”  

What is your advice for graduating seniors as they begin their transition from college life to the workforce? 

Costa noted that recent graduates should strive to get an understanding of what they’re walking into, find the lay of the land, and try to build a healthy work-life balance from the start. He reminded students that they “have to be resilient,” and that while the demands of entry level work and company commitment can be tough, it is worth it in the long run.  

Varesio, touching on her own experience, recognized that the transition can be scary. This massive shift is a change that can also transform who you are as a person. She advised students to be selective about where they want to work and find a place where they find a community that they enjoy being around. She emphasized that while this transition can be frightening, a new chapter of life is just beginning and alongside that comes an opportunity to expand networks and net worths.  

Lastly, Redgate spoke about the reality of moving back in with her parents after graduation and covered the path that it gave her on the route to financial stability, allowing her to ease the anxiety of bills and other payments. Redgate highlighted that “everyone has a different trajectory” and advised students not to compare themselves to others who are seemingly doing better or worse. At the end of the day, everyone has a different path, Redgate said, and “having people that support you is the biggest thing.” 

Bummed about missing the event? ESPN Senior Editor, Jonathan Costa, also serves as the first ever Alumni-in-Residence for the Center for Career Development. Costa has virtual office hours throughout the semester where he offers support and guidance to students. To schedule a meeting with Jonathan Costa during his office hours, connect with him on LinkedIn: Jonathan Costa | LinkedIn !

By Kyleigh Flannigan
Kyleigh Flannigan