Calhoun Alums Share Career Advice at 9th Annual Career Symposium

On Friday, May 10, Upper School students gathered in the theater to kick off the 9th Annual Cougar Career Symposium. The Career Symposium serves as an opportunity to connect current students to Calhoun alums working in a variety of fields and industries. For alums, it's a chance to return to their old stomping grounds, reconnect with their Calhoun network and, of course, share their expertise with fellow Cougars ready to embark on their post-high school journeys.

This year, the Honorable Robert Mandelbaum '83 presented the keynote address, speaking about his own Calhoun experience and his path from law school to the judge's bench. During his address, Robert credited Calhoun with the confidence he brought with him into college and his multi-decade career in law.

Following the address, juniors and seniors attended one of three panels featuring Calhoun alums: Start-ups, Tech & Workplace Innovations, Creative Pursuits in Media and the Arts, and The First Job Experience & Perspectives. A total of thirteen alums served on these panels and shared career advice with students. Reflecting on both their time at Calhoun and all that followed, each alum provided a unique perspective on the transition from high school to college and the professional world.

Read below for career advice from our guest panelists:

Tips on Navigating College

"When you get to college, you will find some of your classmates too nervous, too intimidated, to ask their professors a question. Because of Calhoun, that will not be you. Because of Calhoun, you will be well positioned to take advantage of the many offerings available to you."
—Hon. Robert Mandelbaum '83, Acting Justice of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, New York County​

"Most students at other schools don’t know how to have the kind of close relationship with a teacher that Calhouners do – that’s one of the strongest tools you have."
—Ryan Greene '08, Enterprise Account Executive at Yotpo

Creative Pursuits in Media and the Arts panel: (L-R) Jake Wolf '13, Tess Harris '11, Daria Di Lello '09, Claudia Zelevansky ’91, Dan Lubell '93

Tips on Starting Out in Your Career

"Calhoun's philosophy and its core values will serve you extremely well, both in college and in your careers and lives beyond."
—Hon. Robert Mandelbaum '83

"Companies want to see that you’re driven — show interest and put your best foot forward."
—Carson Rey '12, Web Developer, Social Media Manager at Flawless Hacks

"Aim high for internships. You will make connections and you will have that on your resume. There isn't salary at stake so it's just more likely that you'll get your foot in the door." 
—Daria Di Lello '09, Visual Research Editor at

“A lot of those skills that you build in school clubs and activities, such as learning to engage with people,  public speaking and building relationships, will serve you well in a professional setting." 
—Farah Taslima ‘13, Associate at the Blackstone Group

Farah Taslima '13, Dean Dioguardo '07, Dana Messinger '97, Claire Baum '12

The First Job Experience & Perspectives panel: (L-R) Farah Taslima '13, Dean Dioguardo '07, Dana Messinger '97, Claire Baum '12

Tips on Discovering Your Passion

“Feel free to have multiple different interests and pursue them at the same time.”
—Dean Dioguardi ‘07, Intern at Goldman Sachs

“Keep your mind open and explore things that you didn't think you might be interested in.”
—Claire Baum ‘12, Senior Growth Analyst at Ampush 

"Just say yes. It's going to lead you to things that are infinitely more worthy of your time." 
—Claudia Zelevansky ’91, Theatre Consultant, Director and Performance Coach, Senior Associate at Martin Vinik Planning for the Arts

“Make yourself uncomfortable. Try new things. You're never going to regret seeing something for the first time."
—Dean Dioguardi ‘07, Intern at Goldman Sachs

Alums return to serve on a Career Symposium panel

Tech & Workplace Innovations panel: (L-R) Moderator Erika Zamfirescu (Upper School math teacher), Evan Peters '06, Seth Melnick '05, Carson Rey '12 and Ryan Greene '08

Tips on Facing Challenge and Finding Success

"You’re better prepared than you know you are... at Calhoun you learn to think about things holistically, and that skill will help you endure any challenges you face."
—Evan Peters '06, Director of Growth Strategy at Datadog 

"Be an active participant in your own success and seek out advice from your peers."
—Farrah Taslima '13 

"The key to any success is passion and interest."
Seth Melnick '05, Senior Manager of Growth at Lyft

Learn more about how Calhoun prepares students for the professional world through the Senior Work program.