Chance meeting leads to Dubai conference

As a self-​​described “career-​​services geek,” Sab­rina Woods has always had a pas­sion for net­working with other career pro­fes­sionals in higher edu­ca­tion. While trav­eling in the United Arab Emi­rates recently, she turned an impromptu visit to the Amer­ican Uni­ver­sity in Dubai into a part­ner­ship that led North­eastern to co-​​sponsor the inau­gural Middle East Career Devel­op­ment Con­fer­ence last month.

Woods, asso­ciate director of career ser­vices at North­eastern, said the con­fer­ence served as an impor­tant oppor­tu­nity to bring a career-​​development summit to the Middle East.

“We wanted to create an envi­ron­ment where people could con­nect, net­work, share best prac­tices, and learn from one another,” said Woods, who served for seven years as a board member for the Career Coun­selors Con­sor­tium, a pro­fes­sional orga­ni­za­tion for career coun­selors in the Middle East.

The day­long con­fer­ence, held in Dubai, drew 75 higher-​​education career coun­selors from six coun­tries, all of them eager to bring back what they learned to their respec­tive insti­tu­tions across the Middle East and United States. The event fea­tured a series of dynamic pre­sen­ta­tions, work­shops, and forums on a range of topics, including the power of social media and inno­v­a­tive ways to build rela­tion­ships with employers.

Some con­fer­ence speakers—including D’Amore-McKim School of Busi­ness co-​​op coor­di­nator Maggie Shea and Col­lege of Pro­fes­sional Studies lec­turer Nancy Richmond—used video con­fer­encing tech­nology to remotely deliver their pre­sen­ta­tions and net­work directly with attendees.

The con­fer­ence is one of the many efforts con­tributing to the Office of Career Ser­vices’ ongoing suc­cess in estab­lishing and lever­aging global part­ner­ships. In fact, Northeastern’s Career Ser­vices oper­a­tion was ranked best in the country by The Princeton Review and North­eastern stu­dents cur­rently ben­efit from more than 2,900 employer part­ner­ships world­wide by par­tic­i­pating in study abroad, co-​​op and research in 92 countries.

“This event was an oppor­tu­nity to break down some walls and help our col­leagues start thinking about how they can help their stu­dents around career devel­op­ment,” Stein explained. “Based on the feed­back we’ve been hearing, it was a tremen­dous suc­cess and people would like to see more of this in the future.”

Woods built on the conference’s suc­cess by cre­ating a men­tor­ship pro­gram that con­nected 30 career pro­fes­sionals in the Middle East with 30 career pro­fes­sionals in the U.S. The global ini­tia­tive, an exten­sion of MECDC, was cre­ated to pro­mote the exchange of best prac­tices and help main­tain rela­tion­ships formed at the conference.

“This pro­gram is helping to make the world a little smaller,” said Woods, adding that she hopes par­tic­i­pants stay in touch beyond their six-​​month com­mit­ment and con­tinue to strengthen the rela­tion­ship between higher-​​education career pro­fes­sionals in the U.S. and Middle East.