By Ketaki Tavan

On Friday, January 26, Pingry held its annual Career Day, an event during which Form V and VI students have the opportunity to speak with diverse panels of Pingry alumni to learn more about potential career options.

The day began with a presentation from keynote speaker Dr. Jennifer Hartstein ’88, a psychologist who helps children, adolescents, and their families with a wide range of psychological diagnoses. On the executive board of Active Minds, a national organization devoted to decreasing the stigma surrounding mental health in young people, Dr. Hartstein is also a “Self-Esteem Ambassador” for Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign.

During her presentation, Dr. Hartstein discussed the effects of developing technology and increased social media usage on today’s youth. She also shared stories about how her interest in psychology developed during her time at Pingry.

After the keynote presentation, students attended three separate industry-focused sessions, assigned based on preferences they indicated a few weeks prior. The sessions covered a broad range of fields, inlcuding engineering/architecture, entrepreneurship, finance, law, management consulting, marketing/advertising, media/communications, medicine, nonprofit/public-service, performing arts, visual arts, psychology, and science. Each session featured two or three alumni panelists who shared their experiences in their current fields and answered any questions students had for them.

Ms. Maureen Maher, who organized Career Day, commented on the value of these panels, saying, “The guidance and life lessons that our returning alumni share with our students on Career Day are invaluable, and the Pingry alumni network is an amazing resource that continues to get stronger every year.” Jackie Chang (VI), who attended the medicine panel, was led to an ISP opportunity through the alumni network that Ms. Maher refers to. “At the medicine panel, I got to meet Dr. Matthew Chow, who is actually going to be my ISP mentor. If I hadn’t attended the panel and met Dr. Chow, I never would’ve had my current ISP project,” Chang said.

The media/communications session featured panelists from the industries of publishing and media, including Jonathan Karp ‘82, the President of publishing company Simon & Schuster.  Participants discussed the ways in which these fields are changing due to technological advances such as social media news coverage and self-publishing companies like Amazon. Miro Bergam (V) commented that “seeing Jonathan Karp, who’s one of the biggest names in publishing, and hearing his story not only spoke to the amazing connections we have at this school but also really helped me see the wide range of careers you can have success in.”

Vicky Chen (V) attended the entrepreneurship panel, where panelists shared the various ways in which they channeled their creativity, ambition, and love of excitement into entrepreneurial career paths. Chen said the entrepreneurship panel was “very encouraging.” “I really appreciated how the panelists emphasized the fact that there isn’t just one prescribed path to success when it comes to entrepreneurship. It got me thinking about all of the different places my interests could take me,” she added.

When asked what she hopes students take away from Career Day, Ms. Maher replied, “The career journey is not always a direct flight. What interests someone today might be very different from what interests him or her in 5-10 years—but that’s OK. The paths our accomplished alumni have taken throughout their professional lives are just as fascinating as their current roles and responsibilities, and yesterday’s failures have often played an essential role in today’s success. If our students ultimately find a rewarding and fulfilling path in life as a result of someone they met on Career Day or something they heard during one of the breakout sessions, well, that’s the gold medal.”

Overall, Career Day was a great success. The day’s events gave students the opportunity to learn about an array of industries and to begin thinking about how their interests might inform their future careers.