On his third day on the job at a high-powered financial firm in New York City, business administration major Elliott Couch ’11 quit.
“My boss called me into his office and asked me to close my eyes and imagine myself three years from that moment,” Couch said. Couch was asked, while his eyes were closed, to project where he was living and what kind of car he was driving.
“It was the beginning of the realization I wasn’t where I belonged,” he said.
Instead, Couch became certified to teach English to speakers of other languages and headed to Thailand. Ultimately, he completed the coursework required to become a special education teacher, and in 2015, he founded Kids Lacrosse the World, a non-profit organization dedicated to leadership, education and empowerment through the Native American game of lacrosse in places like Africa and Malaysia.
Couch was the keynote speaker for the second annual Central New York (CNY) Career Connections Sept. 28 at the SUNY Oswego in Syracuse branch campus. Modeled after the Oswego Alumni Association’s popular annual New York City Career Connections, the event featured Couch’s keynote address, an alumni panel Q&A session and the opportunity for junior and senior students to speak informally with alumni from a variety of CNY employers about careers, the job search process and tips for living in the region.
“I’ve found my passion,” said Couch, who now calls Colorado home. And while it may not be in the financial sector of Manhattan, his degree from SUNY Oswego has played a vital role in his non-profit skill set, he said. “Your degree is not limiting. Every skill you have is relatable.”
Following the keynote, Couch was joined by members of the Graduates Of the Last Decade Leadership Council Anja Godlewski-Dykes ’15, an account manager for the Digital Hyve, and Adam King ’11, legal administrative assistant for litigation with Bousquet Holstein and a law student at Syracuse University, for a panel moderated by student Lucas Ellison ’18, who shared questions prepared by fellow student members of the Oswego Future Alumni Network.
The panelists offered insight into what life is like right after graduation, how to approach job interviews and how important it is to network.
Networking is “authentic relationship building,” Godlewski-Dykes told students. “It’s not something you do with just alumni and other people in the work world, but with your peers, too.”