By Edward Weinman

social networking event

Beverly Li ’14 wants to know how the “Whitman experience” continues after graduation.

The psychology major is approaching the final stages of her Whitman career, so she has decided to attend a “Whitties Helping Whitties” networking event in San Francisco on Mar. 25, one of three mixers organized by the Student Engagement Center and Alumni Office and held over spring break. The other events will be held in Portland, Ore. (3/26), and in Seattle, Wash. (3/27).

“There are so many different opportunities out there after graduation,” Li said. “I want to see how much continuity there is from alumni’s undergraduate experiences to their post-graduate lives, and how I might be able to model my own post-graduate life.”

Today’s students understand that networking is one vital strategy to finding a job. However, learning how their fellow alumni traveled from graduation to employment provides current students with a road map to their future.

“These events help students discover where they came from and where they want to go,” Kimberly Rolfe, director for business engagement with the SEC, said.

“Whitties Helping Whitties enables students to get access to a targeted network, gain access to professional opportunities and provide mentoring opportunities by creating strong bonds between alumni and students.”

While the networking program is in its infancy, Rolfe plans to run up to seven or eight events each year in what are considered essential hubs for Whitman students and alumni. In addition to San Francisco, Portland and Seattle, events are being planned for Walla Walla, Spokane, Washington, D.C., the Bay Area and Denver.

All future mixers have been modeled after the successful pilot event, hosted by the technology-driven real estate startup Redfin in Seattle last January.  

“I think the first panel was successful in terms of giving students exposure to what it means to work at a mission-driven start up, as well as the opportunity to network with Whitman alums,” Lisa Taylor ’08, marketing manager at Redfin, said.  

social networkingTaylor, who helped arrange for Redfin CEO and startup guru Glenn Kelman to speak to the group, wanted to inform current students about the possibilities open to graduates with liberal arts degrees.

“I participated in the pilot program because I think it’s important for current and recently graduated students to get exposure to technology startups and how a liberal arts education can be a great foundation to start a career in a fast-paced, growing company,” said Taylor, who earned her degree in music.

“When I was at Whitman, we never got insight into this world and after graduation I was lucky to find a great start up that ended up being a perfect fit for me. I also want to encourage more conversation between Whitman alums and students as we really want to help recent grads be successful and share our experiences.”

Meeting alumni in person rather than by email or phone helped Sara Graham ’14 decode some of the mysteries surrounding job interviews, and where one majoring in  mathematics might land after graduating.

“This networking event in Seattle made it easy to establish a strong connection with alumni,” Graham said.

“I met a woman in the field of recruiting and she has become a great resource for helping with my resume, advice on cover letters and ‘uncoding’ what recruiters ask or tell me before or after interviews.”

Graduating from college can be daunting. It leads some fourth-year students to wonder, “Now what?” Rolfe believes these networking events will clarify that question.

“Whitties Helping Whitties helps students build a professional trajectory for themselves.”

For information on upcoming alumni events, please visit the Alumni Events page.