Alumni Networking: Make Mistakes and Connections

by The Cowl Editor on January 27, 2017


Nick Crenshaw ’20 / The COWL


by Marla Gagne ’18

News Co-Editor

For many students, December and January are a time of stress (finals week), celebration (the holidays are finally here), and New Year’s resolutions (and breaking them). For Providence College’s Center for Career Education and Professional Development, it is the perfect time for networking.

Over break, many students took advantage of the alumni events happening in various states, connecting past and present Friars. The Career Center teamed up with the Office of Institutional Advancement to host two networking nights in Hartford, Connecticut ,and New York, New York, while also on hosting game watches for alumni and current students in New Jersey and Los Angeles. Stacey Moulton, associate director of the Career Center, said alumni in the Hartford area were very interested in connecting with students and reached out to the school to plan the event.

The smaller gathering allowed “students to talk with everyone” on a more intimate level and move outside of their own industry. The New York night featured an alumni panel that allowed students to see alumni at all stages of their careers.

The College also hosted an easy-access networking night that took place Jan. 24 on campus. All majors and years were welcome to stop by the two-hour event, mingling with alumni and hearing from keynote speaker Natalie Leonard ’93, who has been involved in human resources for 20 years and taught HR classes at Johnson &Wales University.

One of the new features of PC’s networking night was a color-coded system to help students identify which alumni could help with their interests and possible career paths. Moulton emphasized that many people, like herself, have made career changes over the years and this allows students to be aware that someone in a marketing background may also have experience in finance or was an English major in school.

Each alum wore a badge that identified any of the industries they have worked in, while students wore similar badges that identified what industries they are interested in pursuing. And unlike at career fairs, this was not a night to stress about getting jobs or internships; it was a time to explore.

Networking nights allow students to “discover careers that they never knew existed or even just advice,” said Moulton. She also encouraged students to find out how alumni    used their experiences from things like DWC or acting on the Board of Programmers to their advantage.

Moulton emphasized most importantly that this was a time for students to “make mistakes.” Visiting alumni want to help students, and many were in similar spots not too long ago. Students do not need a perfect elevator pitch or a stunning resume. They just need an open mind.

Brittany McHale, associate director of alumni relations, said “I often see that the PC connection takes a bit of stress off the student because they know they already have something in common with the person they are meeting, this might not always be the case when meeting a recruiter or unknown employer. Students can also hear firsthand accounts of how a former PC student went from campus to career.”

One concern of many non-business majors is a lack of resources for them at career events. Moulton said the Career Center recognizes that students feel this way and are working to provide more resources. On March 26, the Career Center will be hosting its annual spring Career Expo where they hope to provide more diverse resources. It will “definitely not be a business fair,” said Moulton.

The Career Center has been meeting with various majors to incorporate more resources for students.  Staff members have talked with the biology department to discuss which companies or research facilities they should contact for the expo, while also reaching out to the Feinstein Institute and Campus Ministry to look at more service and volunteer options.

Along with job and internship opportunities, students will also be able to look into graduate schools, gap year programs, and just talk to alumni that may have advice about moving to a new area after graduation or what classes to take at PC.

For non-business majors that might question the value of networking nights, Moulton encourages them to attend as many events as possible. Although they may not find someone with their dream career, they can still receive advice that Moulton believes, “is transferable to all industries;” students can even just learn about the “transition from PC to the working world.”

Students can continue working on their networking skills at the Etiquette Dinner on Feb. 26. More information about the career Expo and new resources will be coming soon.