Emory’s chapter of Hob Nob hosted a panel of professionals from various career fields last night at its Talents Seminar in an effort to help students find jobs that best suit their interests.
This seminar was the last in a series of events over the course of the semester and was preceded by discussions in other events focusing on values and passions.
According to Hob Nob co-founder Ben Harris, last night’s discussion was aimed towards helping students find work that they enjoy doing.
Andrea Arena, president and founder of concierge and errand-running service 2 Places At 1 Time, said that it is important to cater to one’s own interests and talents.
“You need to look at the little things that you’re really, really good at that nobody else can do, the things you take for granted. For example, I was really good at figuring out the phone bill,” she joked.
It is difficult to find a career, Arena said, before recognizing your talents. She said that before she realized her passion, she tried out several different industries.
“I knew I wanted to go into some sort of business, but I didn’t know which avenue to go down. I came out of college with a management degree, but that was so broad,” Arena said. “There isn’t a multiple choice question, ‘a’ is for banking, ‘b’ for law.”
Kilpatrick Stockton LLP attorney Shyam Reddy (’96C) said that getting involved in school was a good way for him to discover his talents. He said that while he spent a lot of time studying, he made his college experience fulfilling by participating in Greek life, participating as vice president of student government and selling ads in the business office of the Wheel
Before diving into a field, Reddy suggested, “Ask yourself, ‘What is it that I’m really good at?’”
Head and neck surgeon Young An said medicine was a good field for him because while he was not the most outgoing person, he wanted to make a personal connection with people, something he said medicine would allow him to do.
While Arena had time to try out various fields, An said that medicine is different because by the time he had a job, he had to remain in the field. He added that despite the inability to switch focuses, a lot of students don’t realize how flexible the medical career can be.
“Medical school is not the end. Even in medical school, you’re still figuring out where you want to go,” An said. “There are so many fields in medicine that there’s something for everyone.”
An wanted a position that was hands-on because he was really good with his hands, he said, so surgery was a good fit.
Arena said that before starting her own company, she worked in banking.
Although she said that it catered to her meticulous personality, it was not a job she enjoyed doing. Instead, she said, she wanted to be able to help people personally.
“The goal was to really improve the quality of peoples’ lives,” Arena said of her company, which provides employees at large corporations with services from walking dogs to personal shopping.
Arena said that it is important for students to work on their talents.
“Although I have the capacity to do accounting, I would rather stab my eye out with a pencil,” she admitted. “That’s just not really what I’m great at. Focus on your strengths, but just don’t let your weaknesses fall too low.”
Reddy, who also works on the hiring committee at his law firm, said that as an employer, it is the strengths that are most valuable to the company.
Reddy said that companies are looking for employees with varying talents, because it is more beneficial to a group to have employees of different strengths versus a group of people with similar abilities.
Often, he said, people leave information off of resumes that could make them stand out against other competitors.
“There are so many little things you do that can be incredibly valuable,” Reddy said. For example, he said that playing sports, being on a debate team and having leadership positions helps employers recognize the positive traits in a candidate.
Overall, Reddy said that recognizing these strengths are is necessary in a job search.
“Whatever your talents are, figure them out. Don’t stress out though, I’m not trying to say you need to know what these talents are tomorrow,” Reddy said, and Arena added, “How about Friday?”
Hob Nob President Charlie Cheng said that in too many cases, people end up in careers they are not passionate about, and that the goal of this semester’s series of panel speakers and discussions was to help students know how to find a job that matches their interests.
“We’re getting kids not only to have fun in college but also to figure out their interests,” Cheng explained. “We’re trying to find jobs that match students’ values, passions and talents.”
— Contact Alice Chen