Tonight in San Diego, the USC Alumni Association and the Marshall Keenan MBA Career Resource Center will host their fourth Pink Slip Party, a networking program that has been praised for providing practical benefits and moral support to unemployed USC alumni.
These events invite Trojan alumni who are out of work to receive free one-on-one career counseling and résumé help from professionals.
Two pink slip parties have been held so far at venues in Los Angeles as well as one in San Francisco. Attendance has remained high since the parties began in June, with each event drawing about 200 alumni.
Scott Turner, associate director of the Alumni Career Services Program and founder of the Pink Slip Party program said he sees it as an opportunity for alumni to network and to realize they are not the only ones dealing with unemployment.
“A pink slip party is usually when laid off workers get together in a bar to feel better and talk about their experience,” Turner said. “I took this idea and modified it.”
For his version of a pink slip party, Turner has hired career coaches to teach people how to market themselves in an economic downturn. Turner works together with Scott Mory, CEO of the USC Alumni Association, to host these events.
“There are alumni out there who are in need of career support and moral support,” Mory said. “The idea is to provide a way for alumni who are going through a similar process to go through it together.”
Peter Giulioni, executive director of the Keenan MBA Career Resource Center, said these workshops can be “incredibly useful.”
“Having a trained professional look at your résumé, getting people to validate that you have a good skill set and just meeting other people who are also in the job search process can all be very helpful to the alum who is seeking a job,” Giulioni said.
He said he thinks attendees benefit not just from the career advice but also from the emotional support.
“It feels like, ‘I’m not in this by myself, there are people here to help me, and the Trojan network is alive,’” Giulioni said. “It also takes away a little bit of the stigma of being a certain age and being out of work.”
Turner said the relaxed atmosphere of the events tends to draw younger alumni, but alumni of all ages have shown up at past events.
He said feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, and he cited the career coaches as a key aspect of this success.
“The most important thing is the professional career coaches,” Turner said. “Being able to sit down for 15 minutes with a professional career coach for free is something you don’t really get to do anywhere else.”
There will be 11 career coaches at the San Diego event tonight, ranging from the President of Thompson Search to a vice president at the TriStaff Group. Morgan Stanley Smith Barney will also be there to provide free financial advice. As of Monday evening, 200 USC alumni were already registered for the event.
USC seniors who will be venturing into the job market soon said they see value in events like the pink slip parties and are glad the Alumni Association is taking an active role in helping graduates find jobs.
“The closer I get to graduation without having a job, the more uneasy I become. But knowing that a post recruiting service exists does make me feel a bit more comfortable,” said Eric Gallegos, a senior majoring in accounting.
Turner said seniors are not the target market for the pink slip series, and plans are already in motion to hold the next event in Los Angeles this spring, but he sees no reason why seniors couldn’t go.
“There’s no reason at all why graduating seniors couldn’t attend,” Turner said. “They are getting ready to jump into the marketplace.”
Though the pink slip parties have received a lot of support, they are just one of many programs geared at helping unemployed alumni.
“The pink slip parties are happening in the context of a much greater initiative to help support our alumni in finding careers,” Mory said. “For the last year, the Alumni Association and the Career Planning and Placement Center have been involved with a campaign called ‘Trojans Hiring Trojans’ for alumni who are in a position to hire and want to help unemployed USC graduates.”