Laszlo Bock PO '94, Senior Vice President of People Operations at Google, spoke to students about career development in an hour-long presentation Feb. 2 at Pomona College. The discussion was part of an effort initiated by the Board of Trustees to improve career services on campus.
Bock, an international relations major with an MBA from Yale, spoke at Pomona last year as well, in the Pomona Career Development Office (CDO)'s Sagehens Beyond the Gates program, when he presented career advice to a smaller group of students.
This year, he filled Rose Hills Theatre with students eager to hear him talk.
"I reached out to President Oxtoby a few years ago after being contacted by too many Pomona students who I knew were brilliant based on my experience at Pomona, but who were doing themselves a lot of damage by not taking some basic steps to get ready for having a job," Bock said. "I recently heard the results of the CDO study Pomona conducted, and they hit all the right notes."
Last year, the Board of Trustees commissioned a task force to make recommendations on the future of the CDO. The task force resulted in an in-depth report presented to the trustees, and discussion continued in the Student-Trustee Retreat last semester and in a Career Development Advisory Board. Currently, the board is developing recommendations for improving the resources offered to students, to be implemented over the next few years.
"We're right now in the planning phase, and then we'll move in the next two years into the implementation phase," Dean of Students Miriam Feldblum said. "We are planning to do some outreach to the campus community, both students and faculty."
Professor of Economics Michael Steinberger, who served on the trustee task force last year, has also been vocal in his support for improving career services for students.
"How do we help Pomona students realize their own dreams?" he said. "And how does Pomona not get in the way of that process but give them help and support along the path?"
A new program that brought CDO staff and Pomona students to Silicon Valley over winter break might be one way to do just that. Students had the opportunity to speak with Pomona alumni working at large tech companies, such as Zynga, TrialPay, Google and Kabam.
Kristen Lindbergh PO'12, who went on the trip, said that it has helped her figure out what she wants to do after graduation.
"It confirmed for me that I do really like the idea of woking in the tech industry," she said. "And I think that what the companies' goals are is really important. It's reflective of what the culture of the company is like."
Students who went on the trip were invited to speak with Bock before his presentation.
"I'm glad we were able to connect so many Pomona students with some of the 40-plus Pomona Googlers we have, and that the students were also able to visit so many other great companies," Bock said.
Another new CDO project, initiated by First-Year Class Representative Rishi Sangani PO'15, introduces first-years to the resources and staff available to them at the CDO. Sponsor groups sign up for an early-evening time slot, then come in for a discussion with staff about their career plans and learn what the CDO can do for them.
"I would like to think that every incoming freshman will be meeting with us and that we'll make the sponsor-group meeting a tradition," said Mary Raymond, Director of the CDO. "Every sponsor group will have come to the office between September and October as a first step."
Bock likes where the CDO is heading.
"From what I've seen, the new direction is very positive and I'm optimistic," he said. "I was at a dinner where Trustee Scott Olivet presented the CDO report to a group of alumni, and there were two reactions: 'This is great,' and 'How can we help?'"
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