By Inji Kim
On Tuesday, Oct. 18, approximately 40 civic scholars gathered at the Ehinger Center to meet a group of alumni representing a diverse set of professions. Aimed to provide an opportunity for Drew students in their junior and senior years to meet alumni who have continued to serve their communities in their professional or personal lives, this was the second annual event planned by the Center for Civic Engagement in partnership with the offices of Internships and Career Development and Alumni and Parent Relations.
“We in the Center for Civic Engagement believe that all of us can and should participate in our communities and help address public issues that we care about,” said Amy Koritz, the Director of the Center for Civic Engagement. Drewids seemed to be excited to meet alumni with successful careers and hear about how they give back through both their careers in non-profit organizations and as volunteers to such organizations. Each alum was assigned a number and table, which the students rotated between in a speed-networking system. In addition, students were able to freely socialize with the alumni after the rotations ended.
Alumni were just as eager to meet students who have strong interests in committing themselves to serve the community, including Kimberlee Williams, the CEO and Chief Strategist for FEMWORKS who graduated from Drew in 1997 with a major in Sociology and African American studies. It was particularly important for Williams to join the group of alumni as a female CEO because it was also the first time the Center for Civic Engagement celebrated Women Entrepreneurship Week. It is a week designed to increase the visibility of female entrepreneurship, and inspire, motivate, and support women involved in business. In her interview with The Drew Acorn, Williams also stressed the importance of entrepreneurship. “Entrepreneurship is especially crucial to the economy we are in right now, it is important that we create jobs for others to work in,” said Williams. She also stressed the importance of recognizing women entrepreneurs, adding, “we tend to not notice the role of women in creating jobs, but it is usually not talked about.” She challenged the students, “Where do you plan to seat yourself in the world? Despite what your major is, I encourage you to imagine a better world and impact it through taking your experience as opportunities.”
Drewids responded to the inspiring alumni they met that evening. “As a sophomore, I was glad to see the reassuring effect that the alumni had on my senior peers (most of whom are stressing out about what they will do after May 2017),” said João Pedro Martins Pinheiro (’19). He added that even though the main premise of the event was to connect students who are interested in going into the nonprofit sector with alumni, he also viewed the experience as training for interview and professional-level conversation skills. “To me, the whole thing was just another good example of the valuable resources available to us Drew students,” Pinheiro said.
After successfully finishing the event, Koritz encouraged Drewids to attend to future events and stressed the importance of getting as much advice as possible and from as many different sources as possible on networking. “Drew alums have a wealth of experience and information regarding how to enter into and navigate employment,” stressed Koritz. Because networking is such an important part of today’s employment landscape, the more practice Drew students can get, the better.
Finally, Koltz remarked that “this event is specifically focused on alums who either have careers in the non-profit and government sectors or who have made civic engagement and philanthropy an important part of their lives, but we would like students to learn about career opportunities in these sectors.” Koltz also stressed the importance of the ability for students to give back to their communities, even if their careers take them in different directions.