Alumni Help Students Plan for Future Careers

By Courtney Carmignani ’05 ML ’07

Some 150 Saint Mary’s students who are looking ahead to the kinds of careers they may pursue and what they need to know to land a job got valuable advice from nearly 70 alumni in a wide variety of fields at 15th Annual Dine with Alums on Oct. 21, 2009.

Sponsored by the Office of Alumni Relations, the Student Alumni Association and the Career Development Center, the event allows current students and alumni to connect informally about life after SMC. Students can ask questions of alumni that they can’t ask in a job interview, and alumni can contribute to the College and current students in a constructive setting.

Some students even walked away with very tangible results, like sophomore Doug Carter, who may have landed an internship through the event.

“I spoke with an alum about her company, and although I had no plans for staying up north for the summer, now I might live in San Francisco for an internship, and I never thought that would happen,” Carter says.

Two or three alumni sat at different tables in the Soda Center, identified by career field. Students switched tables three times throughout the evening for roundtable conversations on everything from how to land a first job to how to pay rent and dress for the business world.

“Dine with Alums is a wonderful opportunity to network and learn from our fellow Gaels,” says senior Tiffany Warner, the Student Alumni Association president. “It was a great evening, and it opened a lot of doors for me as I now have an internship with one of the alums I dined with. I hope students continue to take advantage of this unique tradition because I see how our alums are so eager to give back and help students.”

Alumni were also able to ease the minds of a few students who feel pressure to have their futures already figured out.

“I gained a better understanding of the world outside of college. I am now more open-minded to different career possibilities and know there is so much more out there than I can fathom,” says sophomore Natasha Ropchan. “At 19, I don’t need to know what I want to do for the rest of my life. I have time to make that decision.”

Alumni say they were happy to share their experiences with students.

“Participating in Dine with Alums provides me a unique opportunity to be back on campus, interacting with students and providing them insights and suggestions to help them in their career choices,” says Lisa Douglass EE ’99, vice president of public affairs for the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities (AICCU). “This special event enables Gaels to help Gaels. That is always a good investment of one’s time. It’s very special and quite rewarding.”