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Career Readiness Conference helps students envision future

Published on January 18, 2024

Career Readiness Conference helps students envision future

Ashon Avent ‘02 speaks about entrepreneurship.

Derrick Curry '14 speaks about leveraging AI in the business setting.

Conference participants gather for a group photo.

The Office of Career Success at Eastern Connecticut State University hosted its annual Career Readiness Conference on Jan. 12, featuring two alumni speakers and a "Designing Your Life" workshop. The speakers informed students about the changes and challenges of business at the conference.

Derrick Curry '14 spoke to attendees about artificial intelligence and ChatGPT. Curry is the senior instructional designer at Munich Reinsurance America, Inc. Curry explained the versatility of AI and how it can be practically applied to different career paths, referring to it as the “assimilation of human intelligence into machines.” 

Curry gave examples of AI’s sweeping impact on our everyday lives, for example, social media algorithms. 

“It’s easy to assume that AI has nothing to do with you, but it's a part of our everyday lives,” said Curry. “Those of you with an iPhone, you use it every day with face ID.” 

Curry explained that AI sites such as ChatGPT and “There’s an AI For That” are not replacements for people and their careers but rather tools to conceptualize ideas. “There are things that come from the human mind that a machine can’t generate,” said Curry. “Don’t be afraid of AI, but don’t forget the power it has.” 

Students fill out prompts and envision their future careers.

Lecturer Ashon Avent ‘08 spoke about business entrepreneurship. In addition to teaching business administration students about marketing, Avent is the owner of T-Shirt World and Bounce World in the Crystal Mall in Waterford. He also runs Huski World Clothing, an online store that sells streetwear. 

Avent spoke of internships and different career paths he tried that connected him with a wide range of people. He continually emphasized the importance of building connections in entrepreneurship.  

“I worked seven internships while at Eastern because I wanted to know where my experiences would lie in the real world,” said Avent. “I did marketing and promotions for people like Jay Z and wrote news articles in Old Saybrook. All these experiences led me to where I am now.” 

According to Avent, entrepreneurship is rooted in business essentials such as targeted marketing, creative marketing and market/competition analysis. Avent cautioned that there is a lot of risk involved with starting and running a business but that uncertainty is inevitable — and vital — on the path to prosperity. 

“When you’re an entrepreneur, you have to think crazy. But you can’t become an entrepreneur if you don’t fail. You have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable and fail your way to success.” 

Written by Elisabeth Craig