Connecting with Alumni During COVID-19
One of the most influential components of my decision to attend St. Lawrence University was the alumni network. I had heard endless compliments for SLU's events and programs that connect current students with alumni, parents, and professionals in any field. Now, after spending almost four years at SLU, I continue to see doors open and paths form in so many directions and I become overwhelmed. SLU has a community with a limitless reach, and the University will help students realize their networking potential as long as they are willing to take advantage of the programs offered.
In the fall of 2020, I was off campus due to COVID-19. However, despite being on a leave of absence, I was able to stay updated with all of SLU's events through email. One of the best decisions I made while away from campus was taking advantage of the junior and senior Zoom dialogues with the SLU Board of Trustees. In non-pandemic times, this event takes place in person over dinner. However, recognizing the value of making connections with SLU alumni and Board of Trustee members, SLU adapted to unprecedented times to still make these connections possible.
When I signed up for one Zoom conversation, I chose a few different Board of Trustee members who I would enjoy talking to while learning more about the potential steps I can take with a degree in Conservation Biology. My final assignment was with Jeff Killeen, who graduated from SLU with a degree in government. He has spent most of his professional career in the internet, information technology, and media industries. Today, he is chairman for The FUND for Lake George, an organization dedicated to conserving and preserving Lake George for future generations.
I was excited to talk to Jeff and prepared many questions to ask about media and conservation, but I never could have predicted just how valuable the dialogue was. There were two other students accompanying me, and we spoke of everything from general campus life to extraordinary advice about finding a way to thrive in the 'real' world. Jeff even sent each of us our own copy of The Career Playbook, by James M. Citrin to give us a material resource with advice for overwhelmed college students (like myself) looking to become professionals in a smooth transition after college. However, an important takeaway was that, no matter the advice given and steps taken, every person will have a unique journey for getting to their career.
The characteristics and skills you pick up by creating your own network and social community will shape you, and the more connections you make, the more dynamic your future options become. SLU students are supported in their journey of academic, personal, and professional accomplishments. Reaching out to professionals through the University's network is simple, and I am thankful to SLU for showing me how accessible networking is as long as I am willing to take the step. The network here becomes a community, and I am honored to be a part of it.