GC Offers 'Transferable Skills,' Alumni Mentors Tell Students

The priority of the GC’s Alumni Mentoring Roundtable rang clear from the start. 

“Let’s create connections,” said Raymond J. Quinlan (Ph.D. ’07, Economics) in his opening remarks, setting the tone for the nine alumni and friends and 30 students gathered in the GC’s William P. Kelly Skylight Room earlier this month. 

Quinlan, chairman and CEO of Sallie Mae and a trustee of the Graduate Center Foundation, was among the mentors invited to host discussions with students from diverse backgrounds and areas of study — from physics and business to psychology and philosophy. 

Among the key themes was the importance of transferable skills, including the less-apparent “soft skills” gained at the GC, according to Subhir Dhamoon (Ph.D. ’13, Mathematics).

“Persistence, grit — you have all of the attributes that you need to succeed,” said Dhamoon, an associate director in global risk management at RBC Capital Markets. 

Karen Altfest (Ph.D. ’79, History) spoke about her journey from historian to financial advisor and author. A principal advisor and executive vice president of client relations at Altfest Personal Wealth Management and a Graduate Center Foundation trustee, she has been named a top financial advisor by The Financial Times and Worth magazine and has published two highly regarded books on financial planning. “I love problem-solving,” Altfest said. 

Risk-taking was another important theme. Jerry Kestenbaum (Ph.D. ’83, Clinical Psychology), founder and CEO of BuildingLink.com, advised some students, “Grow a tolerance for not knowing so that you can learn.” 

At every table, mentors handed out business cards, encouraged students to submit résumés, and exchanged contact information.

“I love the GC,” Dhamoon said, adding that he would “do anything to help” GC students. 

The event — a joint effort of the Office of Career Planning and Professional Development and the Office of Institutional Advancement — is one of many networking opportunities for GC students.

See the full list of upcoming events

Pictured above (left to right): Subir Dhamoon (Ph.D. ’13, Mathematics), associate director, Royal Bank of Canada, Capital Markets; Lorraine Hariton, senior vice president, global partnerships, New York Academy of Sciences; Jerry Kestenbaum (Ph.D. ’83, Clinical Psychology) founder and CEO, BuildingLink.com; Michael Conn (Ph.D. ’00, Environmental Psychology), senior vice president, research, Student Research Foundation; Raymond J. Quinlan (Ph.D. ’07, Economics), chairman and CEO, Sallie Mae, and Graduate Center Foundation trustee; Henry (Hengyong) Mo (Ph.D. ’07, Economics), managing director and chief economist, AIG; Karen Altfest (Ph.D. '79, History) principal advisor and executive vice president of client relations, Altfest Personal Wealth Management, and Graduate Center Foundation trustee

Photos by Bonnie Eissner

Submitted on: APR 26, 2017

Category: General GC News