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Northwestern University

"Your Career Is a Journey"

The second annual Weinberg College Career Summit inspires students to keep an open mind as they look toward the future

By Rebecca Lindell 

“Your first job isn’t your career.” 

“Success can come from unconventional paths.” 

“There is no one path. Do what you enjoy. Work hard and smart. Take advantage of opportunity when it presents itself.” 

If the goal of the second annual Weinberg College Career Summit was to encourage students to keep an open mind as they look toward the future, those sentiments — expressed by students who participated in the event — are a testament to its success.

Hosted on Sept. 26, the day before the start of fall classes, the summit drew 173 Weinberg students and 39 alumni for a series of panels and workshops designed to expose students to a variety of career paths.

Keynote speaker: co-founder of Blaze Pizza 

Sponsored by the Waldron Student-Alumni Connections Program, the day-long event was aimed at rising sophomores and juniors. Students learned about the practical skills associated with transitioning from college to career, and connected with dozens of alumni eager to return to campus and share their knowledge. 

The keynote address was delivered by Blaze Pizza co-founder and Weinberg College graduate Elise Wetzel ’87 (pictured above), an economics major who went on to earn an MBA from Northwestern in 1992.

Wetzel addressed the importance of keeping an open mind, being unafraid of failure, and understanding that one’s career path need not align exactly with one’s major. 

“I liked the point that she made about how your career is a journey, and you don't need to figure out everything right now,” one student said. 

“A fantastic opportunity to explore different paths” 

The morning of the summit was devoted to workshops facilitated by the office of Northwestern Career Advancement and Weinberg College advisers. Topics included:

A networking lunch gave students the opportunity to chat with alumni participants in an informal environment. 

In the afternoon, students attended two out of nine career sessions ranging from medicine and law to advertising and data analytics. Alumni panelists shared insights into their industries and answered candid questions from students looking to learn more about opportunities in the field. 

“Each speaker had a remarkably different journey that led to the success of their ventures,” one student observed after the event. “Each of them was able to share how they overcame hurdles and directed their energies towards the product that they were passionate. I learned that hustle is imperative, as is being willing to pivot.” 

Insights such as these help students get a strong start on their professional journeys, said Jane Corey Holt, director of the Waldron Student-Alumni Connections Program

“This incredible event provides students with a fantastic opportunity to explore different career paths, to hear from and network with our alumni and to gain some key skills and insights with regards to the job and internship search,” Holt said. “It was a stellar day.”

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