On March 26, ASAP and the CCPD co-sponsored the “Career Con” on campus, drawing more than 150 students to meet and network with alumni who shared their successful career paths from CSI to positions in the fields of Business, Human Resources, Medicine, Education, and many more. It featured a panel of six CSI graduates— Antoinette Constantino, Cliff Hagen, Kayden Sullivan, Mark Pollock, Victor Gomez, and Nada Basouny—assembled in the Williamson Theatre and answered numerous questions pertaining to their current employment and how they got there, as well giving valuable advice for employment after college. Here’s a couple important points that I took away from this assembly.  


All panelists involved emphasized the idea of making as many professional relationships as you can. As cliche as it is, as spoken by Nada, sometimes it’s not what you know but who you know. Similarly, the panelists encouraged getting involved in the community and/or clubs outside of classes.


Viktor didn’t like his first job after graduating, not to mention having had to put in more than 200 applications before finding his current place of employment. I’ve also experienced the slog of never-ending job applications, and I can’t say I’m the most patient person around. It was comforting to see someone who went through the same experiences I’m going through make it out in the end. Nada also mentioned being patient when starting a job, as it’ll take some time to really get the hang of things.

Other things that stood out to me during the panel is how Antoinette said that her major is Psychology and that it has actually been super helpful toward her current career as a flight attendant. I would never expect that, personally, but it makes sense. Knowing how people’s minds work is helpful when you have to deal with hundreds of patrons every day. Victor said he would’ve been an actor and Kayden said she would’ve been a singer if not for their current careers, which amused me greatly. You really never know where you’ll end up.

When the panelists opened the floor for the audience to ask questions, I took the time to ask about disclosing disability to a prospective employer. Studies show that the unemployment rate for people with autism is exponentially higher than the general population—85% according to Golden Steps ABA. As an adult on the autism spectrum, I’ve certainly been insecure about my belonging in the employment world, especially with social skills being the most important thing from applications to promotions. I’ve been given mixed messages about disclosure from various sources, though Nada encouraged it due to quotas placed on companies to have X% of employees with a disability.

The panel was a pleasant and informative experience that I’m glad I got to attend. As always, feel free to contact the Center for Career and Professional Development to learn more about upcoming events, as well as ways to energize your career search.

By Laura Bello