Professions Dinner Connects Students and Alumni in SyracuseProfessions Dinner Connects Students and Alumni in Syracuse
The bond between Ithaca College and its alumni never breaks.

The bond between Ithaca College and its alumni never breaks.

Two years ago, Peter J. Thomson '87 contacted the college for assistance in his job search. He picked up pointers on creating a resume and ideas on networking.

In January, Thomson -- now a relationship manager for KeyBank's Central New York/Rochester district -- met Christopher Didio '84 at a business networking event. Didio -- a senior partner at Dannible & McKee CPAs -- was organizing a Professions Dinner for Ithaca students and alumni in Syracuse.

Would Thomson like to attend? Yes.

It was Thomson's first IC alumni event and "because of the positive experience I took away, I'm committed to doing more," he said.

Thirty people -- 27 students and alumni, and three faculty -- gathered for the informal reception catered by Dinosaur Bar-B-Que at Dannible & McKee's office in Syracuse.

Mike Boch '10 enjoyed walking around, chatting with various alumni, having done research on many of them to gather conversation starters. For those who had played football, he described his own four years playing for the Bombers; he started every game at center last fall. For others, he posed a relevant question based on their background.

Alumni stories were similar to his, Boch said.

"They did not know exactly what they wanted to do when they got out of school, but they all had a general idea," said Boch, who will return to Ithaca next year for the MBA program in professional accountancy. "I asked them questions on how they ended up making a decision, and what important factors did they consider before they made the decision."

The event's age range spanned four decades, from current students to alumni as far back as the class of 1971. The School of Business initiated the event to build stronger alumni relationships and give students the skills and connections to secure internships and jobs. As host, Didio said, the event allowed Dannible & McKee to connect with area alumni and share expertise with students getting ready for the business world. Students were offered tours to see what it's like working for an accounting firm. Didio is one of three alumni there, along with marketing director Jaimee Pishotti '99 and Lauren Sweet '03.

Thomson reflected on how much the job landscape has changed since 1987. He skipped senior week to interview with three companies. One of them hired him; he started working the Wednesday after graduation.

"These days, the competition and availability of jobs is very different," he said. "It will take well-prepared graduates and some strong networking skills to stand out, and having a business degree from IC will greatly enhance their chances to land a job."

Didio explains the value of alumni sharing their experiences with students. The students learn how others overcame obstacles and how they can make connections before they enter the workforce. "This will give them the one-up on other new professionals that are going in blind, not knowing what to expect," he said.

He urges alumni to "get involved and make a difference."

Both Boch and AJ Karbula '10, who also will attend the IC graduate program in accounting, say they've learned how vital networking is in looking for a job.

"I wish that I had gone to one of these sooner and started to build connections with alumni earlier," Karbula said.

Alumni like Didio come away with strong impressions about today's students.

"Students appear to be less fearful of the real world and more inquisitive, which shows a drive and maturity that any company would love to see in an entry-level employee," he said. "The School of Business is providing something of immeasurable value to these students."

And today's students see the value of the Ithaca College bond. Said Boch: "It's important because you can relate to that person. You get a sense of knowing that this person must be a hard-working individual because if you are coming out of Ithaca, that's the only type of person you can be."


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