An evening of insight into the future of the business world, advice on job searching, and tips on building an online presence were all part of another successful St. Michael’s College School (SMCS) Alumni Information Series on Wednesday, August 26.
Matt Montemurro ’05, SMCS Alumni Association’s Vice President moderated the almost 90-minute Zoom session that included guest speakers Jason Annibale ’93, a respected lawyer from McMillan LLP, and Martin Fox ’02, an experienced managing director at Robert Walters plc. Alumni representing the last 51 years of graduates were in attendance.
“These sessions have proven to be a valuable resource as they continue to bring all alumni from a variety of graduation years together,” says Kimberley Bailey, Director of Advancement. “We are grateful for the ongoing dedication and commitment of our Alumni Association.”
Larry Colle ’69, an active participant on all three of the Alumni Information Series events was impressed by the diversity of perspectives from the alumni panel.
“This was a fascinating alumni session on the response to COVID from a legal, construction, and human resources perspective,” says Colle. “Especially insightful was the information relayed regarding hiring practices amidst the pandemic and the art of the Zoom Interview.”
Jason Annibale kicked off the evening speaking to how the safety measures put in place by the construction industry saw the highest levels of collaboration between owners, contractors, and the trades.
“We might see a change in the design of buildings. For the last 15 to 20 years, we’ve seen a move in design to bring parties together, create space where people collaborate, where people bump into each other in the halls on purpose to increase higher levels of communication amongst organizations,” he explained. “Now we might see a reverse of that trend. We may see the impact of COVID-19 permanently as buildings are designed to limit physical contact to accommodate work that is done with the new safety protocols that are in place.”
Fox provided details on how hiring has changed after 90 per cent of the hiring process came to a standstill at the beginning of COVID-19. He stressed the importance of not only having an up-to-date resume, but also a LinkedIn account with a current professional photo and accurate information.
All of the panelists had an opportunity to share their recommended best practices on job searching, strategies to seek mentorship opportunities from a new employer, and tips on how to stand out during an online interview.
During the topic of interviews, Fox and Annibale said that an applicant’s resilience is one of the things that stands out. Fox shared that people do not practice enough for interviews and that the candidate should come prepared with a three to five-minute self-sales pitch, and if notes are being used, keep them off to the side and try not to read off of them.
When having an online interview, Fox reminded the attendees to be mindful of body language --- keep the top of your arms and head visible and clear, ensure the backdrop used is professional, limit distractions, use a quiet location with the best internet connection.
The panel agreed that finding a personal connection helps to open the conversation. Fox stressed that, “relationships are still extremely crucial for how you're going to go about a job search.”
He does not recommend submitting blind applications via the company's website or LinkedIn page. The panel all recommended being persistent but strategic at the same time.
"The webinar on staying relevant during COVID was very informative, providing a significant amount of professional insight and guidance to many of our fellow young alumni,” says Sean Killin ’15. This was the first online alumni event that he attended. “Thank you to Mr. Jason Annibale, Mr. Martin Fox, and Mr. Matt Montemurro for their time and much needed professional guidance."