Career and Mentoring
One of the most frequent requests from undergraduates when they speak to alumni is for assistance with career planning, internships, mentorships, and job placement. They also want advice from alumni regarding graduate school and/or post graduate degrees. The alumni board established the Career Development Committee a number of years ago, co-chaired by Tom Silver ’81 and Rob Novo ’79 to address these ongoing requests. Mu Chapter has established a series of programs for our undergraduates and alumni to take advantage of.
Annual New York City Career Event
The brothers of Mu Chapter are proud to report on the success of the 14th annual Sigma Pi Career Weekend. Beginning on November 1, the weekend kicked off with a welcome dinner at Orsay Restaurant with more than 60 combined undergraduate brothers and alumni. Since we had such a successful speaker last year, we continued the tradition this year, hosting Johnson Graduate School of Management graduate Jeff Hanson. Jeff spoke about the value of creating and developing a personal brand and how to use that as a platform for future success. After a tremendous night of networking, storytelling, and introductions, the undergraduate brothers spent Friday visiting the firms of our generous alumni. Some of this year’s visits included Cortec Group, CoVenture, First New York Securities, Goldman Sachs, Lazard, and Riskified.
Throughout the weekend, the undergraduate brothers were fortunate to learn more about various industries, form meaningful connections, and garner meaningful professional advice. Additionally, thanks to the generosity of Andrew Ross Sorkin ’99, 11 undergraduate brothers were able to attend the 2018 DealBook Conference. The conference offered unique insight into the success of featured speakers, such as Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Snapchat Founder Evan Spiegel, Goldman Sachs Senior Chairman Lloyd Blankfein, and many more. We would like to thank our loyal alumni for their unparalleled generosity and commitment to the professional development of the undergraduate brothers, and we look forward to the continued success of Sigma Pi Career Weekends.
Sigma Pi Educational Foundation
As part of the Educational Foundation’s mission to provide Sigma Pi brothers with opportunities that enhance their undergraduate experience, the board approved the creation of three paid internships, with individuals supporting career services, the educational foundation, and technical support service. The Educational Foundation intern is a liaison between alumni, undergraduate brothers, and the Ithaca Community, overseeing communications, promotions, and coordination of the program. The career-services intern supports the development and coordination of the alumni/student mentor program, which includes 70 brothers and alumni. The intern also helps to coordinate career-services events and the Distinguished Alumni Speaker series throughout the years. The tech-support services intern helps build out and manage the tech infrastructure that connects alums and undergrads. The tech services intern is also responsible for operations, management, scheduling, and upkeep for the Richard Cahoon Tech Center. These internships enhance our current investments in the Tech Center as well as help us expand our community programming, marketing, and development efforts. In addition, the interns benefit from direct interaction and mentoring from Foundation Board members.
Will Nuga ’21 is a junior in the School of Hotel Administration pursuing a concentration in Finance, a minor in Real Estate, and additional instruction in Cornell’s Computer Science curriculum. Will transferred to Cornell from Skidmore College and joined Sigma Pi in the Fall 19 and served as a Pledge Class President. This past spring semester, prior to becoming the career services intern, Will also serve as the Diversity and Inclusion Chair for Sigma Pi.
Moreover, Will has also recently accepted an offer from CALSTRS as a Real Estate Investment Analysts for the summer of 2020 and seeks to use this experience to leverage himself into a career in the financial services industry after his undergraduate studies.
Sackett Terry ’21 is a junior studying information science and pursuing minors in both business and real estate. Sackett transferred to Cornell from Hamilton College and joined Sigma Pi in the Fall 18 Pledge Class. In addition to his role as the career services intern, Sackett has served as a former philanthropy chairman and pledge class treasurer.
In addition to his roles in the house, Sackett remains an active member of the Cornell Real Estate Club serving as their VP of mentorship and enjoys volunteering with College Mentors for Kids as a mentor. Last summer, Sackett worked in Oslo, Norway, at Anvil Asset Advisors, a real estate private equity firm and has accepted an offer from BlackRock as a US wealth advisory summer analyst for the summer of 2020.
The Educational Foundation intern position provides undergraduate Pi Men, like Harry and Sackett, with the chance to contribute to the fraternity in a uniquely professional capacity. As intern, one has the opportunity to act as liaison between the alumni and undergraduates, in effect connecting the brotherhood to the endless opportunities available to them while enhancing the vision of the efforts made to keep the fraternity well-running. Typical responsibilities of the intern include providing article’s for circulation in the fraternity’s publications, facilitating professional mentorship for the brothers through a speaker series, and notifying the alumni about educational requests on behalf of the brotherhood.
Sponsoring Students for Select Industry and Business Conferences
From time to time, the Sigma Pi Educational Foundation has also provided funding for students to attend industry and business conferences, such as the DealBook Conference.
The Richard Cahoon Tech Center – Alumni Distinguished Speaker Series
The Tech Center, funded by a generous gift from Richard “Dick” Cahoon ’77 to the Mu Chapter of Sigma Pi Educational Foundation, is a state-of-the-art video-conferencing system that enhances and facilitates interactions between undergraduates and alumni. The center plays a pivotal role in Sigma Pi’s focus on career and mentoring. The Tech Center allows for one-to-one and one-to-many webcasts between alumni and undergraduates, promoting dialogue and assistance for students with career planning, internships, mentorships, and job placement. The undergraduates also want advice from alumni regarding graduate school and/or post graduate degrees. Many of our alumni are scattered across the country and around the world. The Tech Center bridges those distances for our students and alumni. As such, the Richard Cahoon Tech Center aligns with the Mu Chapter of Sigma Pi Educational Foundation’s mission.
The Alumni Distinguished Speaker series has included a number of alumni, speaking over the last couple of years about their career experiences. The speakers provide deep and personal insights from a wide range of classes and functional experiences, ranging from finance and music and concert promotion to business start-up. Select speakers include Andrew Ross Sorkin ’98 (New York Times), John Zimmer ’06 (Lyft), Zach Crane ’10 (Moore Capital Management), Grant LaFontaine ’10 (YouTube), Quin Garcia ’06 (AutoTech Ventures), and Ben Dreier ’15 (Boosted Boards).
Entrepreneurship Conferences Sponsored by Sigma Pi Educational Foundation
The Mu Chapter of Sigma Pi Educational Foundation has sponsored two conferences on entrepreneurship for undergraduate brothers. The third Mu Chapter Technology, Social Media, and Career Conference was held on Saturday, April 21, 2018, in Ithaca. In conjunction with the Entrepreneurship at Cornell Celebration, the Sigma Pi conference focused on social media and entrepreneurship. The last conference, held in 2016, featured six speakers and was extremely well received by the undergraduate brotherhood. The event was attended by over 50 undergraduate brothers and alumni. The keynote speaker was Felix Litvinsky, managing director of Blackstone LaunchPad at Cornell University. Blackstone LaunchPad is an experiential campus-based program designed to introduce entrepreneurship as a viable career path and to develop entrepreneurial skills and mindset through individualized coaching, ideation, and venture creation support.
In addition, Zachary Schulman ’87, the director of Entrepreneurship at Cornell (E@C), spoke about the Cornell entrepreneurship program that was created in 1992 to promote entrepreneurship education, experiential learning opportunities, programmatic activities, and events for the Cornell community. Sigma Pi alumni speakers included Quin Garcia ’05, managing director of AutoTech Ventures, a venture fund investing in ground transport startups focused on connected, autonomous, energy efficient cars, motorcycles, commercial vehicles, and services; Randy Ottinger ’80, founder of Leader-2-Leader, a firm that helps founders, CEOs, and senior leaders build great companies with the strategies, cultures, and networks to accelerate growth, innovation, and financial value; Ali Hamed ’14, co-founder, CoVenture; and Dan Smalls ’92, founder of Dan Smalls Presents, a talent-buyer, concert-promotion, and event-production company based in Ithaca, New York. Tom Silver ’81, president of the Mu Chapter Educational Foundation, discussed the ways undergraduates could partner with the foundation on entrepreneurship endeavors. Brody Ehrlich ’10 and Brian Lederman ’10 spoke about a new initiative to help secure funding for undergraduates’ entrepreneurial and business projects. If you’re an entrepreneur and would like to be involved in further promoting entrepreneurship with the undergraduates as a speaker or as a mentor to an undergraduate, please reach out to Rob Novo at email@example.com.
The 2017–2018 academic year is the fourth year for the Sigma Pi Undergraduate Alumni Mentor Program. As a reminder, the alumni mentor committee strives to match undergraduate brothers with alumni of similar academic and career interests. It has been, and continues to be, met with resounding enthusiasm. This year we had record 35 undergraduate brothers participate in the program. It was quite a challenge to match 35 undergraduates with alumni, but we were able to do so. Thank you to those alumni who agreed to be mentors. We received excellent reviews of the program and have learned that many relationships fostered by the mentor program have continued beyond the undergraduates’ graduation and into the early years of their careers.
Looking forward, the program will continue to take advantage of the Tech Center, allowing for easier and more frequent alumni/undergraduate communications that promote even more meaningful relationships between undergraduates and alumni, including potential career “days,” specialized workshops, and other events to link alumni and undergraduates.