Sophomore Symposium Welcomes the Nation’s Employee

By Brendon Johnson ‘16 / Champlain College News

Seddiqui's book on his experience.

Seddiqui’s book on his experience.

Champlain College Life Experience & Action Dimension (LEAD) will host its fifth annual Sophomore Symposium on Sunday, Sept. 29. Sophomore Symposium is the first event in Champlain College’s LEAD Lifelong Career Management Program, which later includes workshops on strategically marketing yourself, social networking, and interview skills. Sophomore Symposium is an annual program that includes a keynote speaker, followed by various workshops designed to allow students to start exploring how others in their field have gone about turning their passion into a career.

LEAD is a four-year program in which students participate in activities to help them become an engaged citizen, learn how to manage a lifelong career, and gain financial literacy skills.

Champlain College has hosted a variety of keynote speakers at past Sophomore Symposiums, from Olympic Gold Medalists to mountaineers, all bringing their world experiences to Champlain sophomores. This year the keynote speaker will be Daniel Seddiqui, author of the book Living the Map: 50 Jobs in 50 States, which reflects on his experience exploring the lifestyles of working Americans by choosing a popular career in each state.

Seddiqui working as a sugar maker at Cabot Hills Maple during his time in Vermont. Picture property of

Seddiqui working as a sugar maker during his time in Vermont. Picture property of

Abigail Mendenhaal, assistant director of the LEAD program, says “is it important for students to follow their inspirations and passions,” which is something she thinks Seddiqui will focus on.

Seddiqui’s quest began after graduating from the University of Southern California with a degree in Economics, and not knowing exactly what he wanted to do for a career.  After 40 job interviews with no offers, he took the first position offered to him, tutoring elementary students part-time. He immediately knew this was not the place for him.

Soon after, he found a book with the contact information for many collegiate-level athletics coaches across the country. He drafted and sent an e-mail to all 18,000 of the coaches listed, just asking for a chance to work with them as part of their program. For his efforts, he received about 250 job offers. The most appealing offer was a position coaching cross country at Northwestern University in Chicago; the only problem was that this offer was an unpaid volunteer position. Seddiqui decided to take the offer, but had to find other sources of income; from painting stairs to accounting at a biomedical firm.

After one season with the Northwestern team,he decided it was time to move on.

Students participating in last year's Sophomore Symposium.

Students participating in last year’s Sophomore Symposium.

He was then invited to reunite with a former coach in a small town in Indiana. This trip gave him a huge culture shock; he ate his first grilled corn on the cob, shot his first gun, and witnessed the Amish lifestyle. He longed for more opportunities to acquaint himself with other cultures and lifestyles. It was this need for new experiences that inspired his “50 jobs in 50 states” journey. He now shares those experiences with people across the country as a motivational speaker.

After Seddiqui’s talk, students will attend one of 25 workshops on a variety of topics facilitated by Champlain faculty, staff, and professionals in the community. The workshops are designed to help sophomores think about what they want to do after college and to offer real-life advice on success in their careers.

About Champlain College

Since 1878, Champlain College has provided career-focused education to students from its hilltop campus in Burlington, Vt. Champlain’s distinctive educational approach embodies the notion that true learning only occurs when information and experience come together to create knowledge. Champlain offers traditional undergraduate and online undergraduate courses, along with online certificate and degree programs and eight master’s degree programs. Champlain offers study abroad programs at its campuses in Montreal, Quebec and Dublin, Ireland. Champlain College is included in the Princeton Review’s The Best 378 Colleges: 2014 Edition. Champlain was named a “Top-Up-and-Coming School” by U.S. News & World Report’s America’s Best Colleges and is ranked in the top tier of 2013 Regional Colleges in the North. For more information, visit


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