2017 Winner of Cornell University’s Outstanding Chapter and Outstanding Service to the Community Awards

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

One of Mu Chapter’s signature programs is the annual fall New York City career event, which is now in its 13th year. This event has continued to evolve, with student interest and enhanced alumni engagement. Some of the students that participated in our first NYC career event are now well on their way in their own respective careers, and a number of our younger alumni have enthusiastically participated with the undergraduates, sharing their experiences and perspectives. Over the years, Sigma Pi brothers have visited the New York Stock Exchange, met with Jim Cramer from CNBC Mad Money, and a select few have attended the annual DealBook conference, hosted by Sigma Pi alum Andrew Ross Sorkin ’98.

Students have been exposed to alumni across a number of industries and business sectors, including finance, consulting, IT/tech, venture capital, startups, law, hospitality, engineering, marketing, and business logistics, just to name a few.

Brothers at the 2016 NYC Career Event
Brothers at the 2016 NYC Career Event

Undergraduate brothers interested in a career in law have attended an event with alumni from prominent law firms, including Cravath, Swaine & Moore, Skadden, Arp, and the Hearst Corporation.

Students have also participated in workshops focused on resume writing, cover letters, interview prep, and post interview follow up.

Companies that have consistently participated and supported the program include Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse, Lazard Freres, First New York Securities, Oppenheimer, Columbia Investment Management, DealBook, Intermedia Production & Events Group, and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The 13th annual Sigma Pi NYC Career Event took place November 9 and 10, 2017, with 16 undergrads and over 30 alumni participating. Andrew Ross Sorkin ’98 hosted five undergraduates to attend the prestigious DealBook conference that he organizes annually. The student admission ticket was funded out of the generosity of the Mu Chapter of Sigma Pi Educational Foundation. The students heard speakers, including Mark Cuban, Howard Schultz, Jack Dorsey, and Laurene Powell Jobs, among many others.

The DealBook conference was followed by the annual dinner with alumni, held at Orsay Restaurant. Thank you to all of the alumni who attended and those that could not attend for sponsoring the students for the dinner. We had an excellent turnout, with 24 alumni in attendance, spanning over five decades of generations. This year’s after-dinner speaker was Ali Hamed '14, founder of CoVenture. The following day, students visited with NYC area alumni in industries, including finance, venture capital, investment banking, consulting, real estate development, and entrepreneurship.

Check out the photos of past events.

Sigma Pi Educational Foundation

Internships

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’77 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.

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 ’77 Tech Center aligns with the Mu Chapter of Sigma Pi Educational Foundation’s mission.

Check out the photos of the Tech Center.

The Alumni Distinguished Speaker series has included over 20 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 will be held on Saturday, April 21, 2018, in Ithaca. In conjunction with the Entrepreneurship at Cornell Celebration, the Sigma Pi conference will focus 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 robn1979@gmail.com.

Mentor Program

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.

Selected questions from alumni interested in participating in the mentor program:

Q: How often do I have to interact with my assigned mentee?
After initial contact, the program is very flexible and depends on your and the undergraduate’s expectations. We suggest communicating at least every other month by phone or by e-mail. Note: The undergraduates carry the primary responsibility to reach out to alumni.

Q: What are my responsibilities as an alumnus?
We hope you can share insights of the industry you work in, especially around recruiting. Note: You are obviously not responsible for finding your mentee a job, but we hope that you can help him find one or help him network.

Q: What is my time commitment as an alumnus?
After initial contact, the program is completely flexible; the more time you put in, the more you and your mentee will get in return. We suggest interacting at least every other month. We believe the technological enhancements coming to the house through the efforts of the Technology Committee will facilitate interaction between alumni mentors and their undergraduate mentees. We are hoping that some communication takes place at least every other month.

Q: What if I would prefer a different undergraduate?
We do our best to find good matches based on industry, career interest, and personality. However, if you feel uncomfortable with the undergraduate we assigned to you, feel free to reach out to us, and we will do our best to accommodate you.

If you are interested in participating in any of the above, please contact Tom Silver ’81 at tsilver10359@yahoo.com or Rob Novo ’79 at robn1979@gmail.com.



 

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