Thanks to a new partnership between the Alumni Association and the Career Center, alumni can look to their alma mater to help with their job searches, prepare for career changes, discover job postings, improve their professional networking skills and learn about new business development and entrepreneurship opportunities.
Nikki Barnett ’01, ’03, a longstanding member of the Stony Brook family, has become the University’s first career counselor exclusively dedicated to assist Stony Brook’s more than 150,000 alumni with these services.
Barnett was appointed senior career consultant for alumni in response to a discussion that took place at the Generation One Reunion in 2012, according to Matthew Colson, executive director of Alumni Relations. “It was during a Q&A with President [Samuel L.] Stanley [Jr., MD] that we learned there was a tremendous need to provide continued services and support to our alumni by implementing a more comprehensive alumni-focused Career Services program,” Colson said.
“Barnett is the perfect person to serve in this role,” said Career Center Director Marianna Savoca. Barnett received the 2011–2012 Distinguished Service Award from the Vice President for Student Affairs, and has coordinated ZebraCAN (Career Advisors Network), which matches current students with SBU alumni who can provide mentoring and career advice. ZebraCAN is a database of alumni and friends of Stony Brook who agree to receive email or phone requests for information and advice. Skype was added as a communication option this past year.
“With ZebraCAN, Nikki has facilitated more than 100 alumni-student mentor matches this year — our highest [number] ever,” said Savoca.
Barnett also partnered with the Office of Alumni Relations to host three highly successful Students and Alumni Networking Mixers, working with Stephanie Tarantino Neidhart, senior coordinator for Alumni Relations.
In her new position, Barnett will be leading a variety of workshops and seminars housed in the Career Center and designed for alumni at different stages of their career development. Barnett said that the types of requests she has received so far largely come under three categories: recent alumni (one to five years) who didn’t focus on their job search while they were students and are not working yet; alumni working in positions unrelated to the careers they aspire to; and alumni who feel stagnant in their current jobs and would like to find a situation that offers more opportunity for growth. Click here for upcoming career workshops.
The program will not be limited to those alumni who can participate in person. “We hope to provide an online interactive Webinar option for our workshops catering to a more global population in the spring,” said Barnett.
Barnett’s career at Stony Brook began 10 years ago with an internship at the Career Center. She next worked in Residence Life as a residence hall director and assistant director for College Housing from 2003 to 2007, and served as a career counselor from 2007 until now. “In effect, Nikki’s role at the Career Center has been evolving over the years to position her for this new role,” said Colson.
“I’ve always been interested in helping professionals,” Barnett said. “Working as a career counselor has enabled me to help students — and now alumni — develop action plans to improve their transferable skills or gain experience on their journeys of self-discovery. I really enjoy it when students are open to exploring and moving outside their comfort zones.”
Barnett is even more invested in the Stony Brook experience because her husband is Jeff Barnett, assistant dean of students at Stony Brook. “We are both very engaged in the SBU community and consider SBU a big part of our lives,” she said.
Vice President for Advancement Dexter Bailey said: “One important measure of a great University is productive and successful alumni. This position helps ensure that Stony Brook alumni can count on their University to help them during their career maturity. Prior to creating this position, our focus was primarily on placing recent graduates from Stony Brook.”
Click here for more information about new career services for alumni.
— Glenn Jochum