Monday, November 4, 2013


by Esmeralda Vargas

            At the Phi Theta Kappa New York Region's Honors In Action Conference, hosted by Kingborough Community College, Scott Stimfel, the assistant dean of student engagement and innovation at New York University, passed PTK members his words of wisdom. Many believe that having a 4.0 GPA is a golden ticket, that will open numerous opportunities, but although having a strong GPA is important, Mr. Stimfel made us realize that it is not everything. There is another factor that is just as important as a high GPA, and that is networking.
             It is no longer what you know, but who you know that counts. Million dollar companies are now using networking as their way to promote products. They are now focusing on letters of recommendations rather then resumes. In his presentation, Mr. Stimfel’s shared with us some ways we can begin to network.
             Networking with your professors is a must; this was emphasized by Mr. Stimfel. He shared his own experiences from college and mentioned how having a professional friendship with one of his professors in college helped him throughout the years. After he graduated, they still kept in contact and she happened to become dean of a very prestigious University. She then recruited Mr. Stimfel to work at her University. The position she was offering was not related to what Mr. Stimfel wanted to pursue as a profession, but he still accepted the position because he is an open minded individual who is up for a change.
            Mr. Stimfel also emphasized open mindedness. He believes that no one can truly plan out what they want to do in the future, even if one has a good idea. Many people are focused on getting to where they envision themselves, because of this they ignore other opportunities given to them, since it does not fit into their plan. Mr. Stimfel’s beliefs reminded me of the ideas Steve Jobs shared during his speech at Stanford University. Steve Job’s stated, “Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.” Quite like Steve Jobs, Mr. Stimfel, too, shares this idea. Although an opportunity might not fit into your plan right now, it may somehow guide you, and connect to where you want to be. This is what Mr. Stimfel tried to teach us, to keep an open mind.
Connecting with your peers is also very important. You will never know if one day one of your classmates will become the next Steve jobs, or president of the United States. Mr. Stimfel shared another one of his life experiences with us, where he had interviewed one of his formal classmates for a job position. This classmate was unkind and unpleasant when they had gone to college together. This, apart from other factors, made Mr. Stimfel uncomfortable giving him the job. If this classmate would have been a good friend, or more pleasant during their college years, then perhaps Mr. Stimfel would have helped him out.
In addition, Mr. Stimfel elaborated on the topic of kindness. A good way to get your foot in the door is by helping others. When you help someone not for your personal interest but for the sake of kindness, there’s a good chance that they will help you in return. While, Mr. Stimfel was in college, he had failed one of his exams, but because he regularly communicated with his professor, his professor allowed him to retake the exam. Being communicative and friendly to others can ultimately benefit you in the long run.
            Another very interesting topic Mr. Stimfel elaborated on was internships. He informed us that companies are now hiring many of their interns as employees. What companies do is wait for students to graduate from college and then offer them a job, since they already have obtained the experience during their internship at the company. He really inspired me to begin to look for internships in my field of study.
            I realized from Mr. Stimfel’s presentation that having a high GPA is not everything; networking is just as important. Obtaining all this knowledge from Mr. Stimfel presentation was wonderful, but what really counts is what you plan to do with this knowledge. As he states, “going to a college with a great network system has no purpose if you do not use it”.


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