On Dec. 21, the St. John’s Advancement Office and Alumni Steering Committee hosted the annual SJC Young Alumni Business Network event.
The half-day program for classes 2015–2022 provided young alumni with a unique opportunity to learn from and network with SJC alumni who are leaders in the business community. Following breakfast, SJC’s Vice President for Advancement Tom Bagwill led the opening prayer and introduced keynote speaker Raul Fernandez ’84. Entrepreneur, investor, and strategic partner, Fernandez is vice chairman and owner of Monumental Sports & Entertainment, a private partnership that owns the Washington Capitals, Mystics, Wizards, and Wizards District Gaming. The partnership also owns and operates Capital One Arena. A native Washingtonian and University of Maryland graduate, he is an active philanthropist in DC regional nonprofits focused primarily on educational reform.
During his virtual presentation, Fernandez shared several of his professional transformative experiences, imparting important lessons he has learned since attending SJC. He emphasized that one must always be learning. “It’s not about the grades, but the journey; learning how to learn.” Even in this digital and remote communication post-pandemic age, in-person learning and being able to interact with and watch people are vital experiences for personal and professional growth. He stated, “Life is not a solo sport.” During the question-and-answer period, Fernandez shared how he started his first business, revealed that he has the most fun with and passion for his sports businesses, and advised the attendees to “always be ready to pitch, sell, and have an intelligent conversation” about your product or company. He told the participants that the SJC Young Alumni Business Network cares about their future and how it is still an important connection in his life.
Alumni then participated in breakout group sessions according to class years. Akihiko “Kiko” Washington ’76, former executive vice president of worldwide human resources at Warner Bros. Entertainment, discussed what recruiters are looking for in candidates with the classes of 2015–2020. He described how to approach the interview process. “The most important thing is showing up to an interview…early,” he said. “Make sure to do your research beforehand about the history and strategy of the company.” Washington reiterated Fernandez’s wisdom of keeping in contact with the SJC network because “relationships are key.” St. John’s newest graduates in the classes of 2021 and 2022 had the opportunity to learn about how to utilize the college career office from presenter Rebecca Cassidy, associate director of employer relations at the Cawley Career Education Center, Georgetown University. Cassidy provided the group with strategies for navigating the college career office and shared tips for how to create a polished college student resume.
From 10:30 am to 12:30 pm, participants had the opportunity to attend the career fair and network with business representatives from more than 25 companies in Cassidy Commons. The afternoon concluded with lunch in the Borger Promenade. “Overall, this was an excellent event. It was inspiring to hear how the keynote speakers built their careers and helpful to learn how to properly build my resume. I especially enjoyed the career fair, because I had the chance to interact with company representatives who were super friendly and very helpful with their expertise and advice. Networking with experienced alumni for potential job/internship opportunities was the highlight of this event,” said Mollie Morin ’21. “I recommend that all young alumni become active in the SJC Young Alumni Business Network.”