Starr Center’s Peers for Careers alumni share wisdom in panel

Caryl Anne Francia, Business Editor

Baruch College’s Starr Career Development Center held a virtual panel featuring alumni of its Peers for Careers program on Oct. 19.

Titled “How the Peers for Careers Program Helped Me Succeed in My Career,” the panel invited three alumni to talk to students and staff about their own experience in the program and how it impacted their careers.

Peers for Careers alumni Thalia Martinez and Aliou Badara Sidibe were two of the invited panelists. Alumnus Shaimaa Abdelrahman, who works in human resources at Inc., was scheduled to appear but was not present.

Martinez works as an associate and business manager at Aladdin, which is the risk management division of BlackRock Inc. Sidibe works as a senior technology consultant at Ernst & Young.

Running for over 20 years, Peers for Careers helps students develop professional work skills and plan their careers after graduation by pairing them with trained mentors. These mentors assist students with writing cover letters and resumes as well as finding jobs and preparing for interviews.

“The program teaches you not only the skills to market yourself but also soft skills, like how to listen to people, how to respond and how to connect with other individuals,” Martinez said. “It was so rewarding when we had people that would come to review their resumes, and they would come back a week or two later and say, ‘I got the job.’ Then, you feel super proud of yourself. You feel proud of them for listening to you and taking your feedback.”

Additionally, Martinez talked about how the Starr Center helped guide students in many different career paths. She advised students to make the most out of their access to supervisors within the program.

“You have access to supervisors that you don’t want to necessarily talk to about, like what’s going on in your day-to-day,” Martinez said. “But you can also rely on them to help you with your own personal growth and figuring out what it is that you want to do. It teaches you that there are many different paths.”

Six years after she graduated from Baruch, Martinez said she continues to apply skills she learned from the program to her work. She learned how to listen, and how to manage a team; in addition to her own expectations.

Sidibe brought up how the program instilled in him confidence that helped him be sure of what he says in front of others.

“When you’re put in a room full of older students, peers, you also have to establish your credibility,” Sidibe said. “Because yes, I’m a student like you, but I have been trained, and I’m confident that I can help you. It is the same thing when I’m facing a client. I have to talk to them, I feel good enough in my abilities to convey information to them.”

The alumni gave advice to attendees throughout the panel. Sidibe told them that one must always give their best to projects they are assigned to, even if they do not like it.

“When you demonstrate your abilities on a project, that builds your brand capital,” Sidibe said, also telling attendees to trust the process and focus on what they can control. “Then later on, you start meeting people, and people say good things about you in consulting. Your reputation is everything, because when a team wants you, they will ask about other teams you work with. Once you have that brand capital accruing, in your career.”

When asked about what they missed about life at Baruch, Martinez and Sidibe brought up the course offerings, times with friends and bonds with professors. They recommended taking advantage of the offerings from not only the Starr Center but also Baruch as a whole.

“College is like one of the best times of your life,” Sidibe said. “Enjoy it. That’s what I miss.”