Politicians aren’t the only ones in Washington, D.C., emphasizing the important intersection between jobs and higher education.
On Wednesday, June 20, the Offices of Personal and Career Development and Alumni Relations hosted Wake Forest Connects, an event gathering more than 130 members of the Wake Forest community in the D.C. metro area to support students – and recent alumni – in their career journeys.
“In today’s job market, students can’t rely on companies recruiting on campus alone to get a job post-graduation. They must be willing to network and build relationships in cities they want to live and work in,” said Mercy Eyadiel, Executive Director of Employer Relations. “Through Wake Forest Connects events, we’re able to help students develop relevant connections.”
In addition to taking advantage of networking opportunities, attendees heard remarks from Steve Reinemund, dean of the Schools of Business, and Andy Chan, vice president of Personal and Career Development. They highlighted Wake Forest’s broad “college to career” community, which, in addition to students, employers and staff, also includes alumni, parents and faculty.
A panel of D.C. area alumni with various experience levels and professional backgrounds – including consulting, health services, real estate, and policy outreach – shared stories and offered advice about making each interaction meaningful.
Before the event, Jasmine Harris (’13) – like many other students – always wondered how to appropriately follow up once introductions have been made and business cards exchanged at a networking event.
“I heard something very useful. One way you can stay in contact and to make sure people remember who you are is to research their company and let them know that you understand what’s going on within their organization,” said Harris, a communication major in the WAKE Washington program this summer.
“Letting someone know, ‘I heard your company is doing this and I just wanted to congratulate you,’ is a really great way to let people know that you still have an interest, even months later,” she added.
Employers say Wake Forest Connects is extremely valuable in today’s economy, since many organizations scaled back nationwide campus recruiting efforts in recent years.
Mark Harbaugh (’09), a senior consultant at Navigant who, outside the company’s normal recruiting process, has helped several Wake Forest graduates start their own careers at Navigant, offered two tips for job-seekers.
“The first thing I’d say is, don’t be scared to ask. The worst thing you can hear is ‘no,’” said Harbaugh. “The second thing is, reach out to your friends. If a fellow Deac gets a resume, he’ll often pass it on to me because he knows I’m also looking for smart and talented people. Even if I can’t help people directly, I’m happy to point them in the right direction.”
That’s what Wake Forest’s inclusive “college to career” community is all about for Elliot Berke (’93), partner and co-chair of Political Law Group at McGuireWoods LLP and Alumni Council president-elect.
“It’s not always about finding a job, it’s about finding your way. The Wake Forest community in particular is very strong in helping those who ask for help to build those relationships,” said Berke. “The economy remains tough and, as alumni, we should do everything we can to help recent grads. If you reflect upon what President Hatch has said about the importance of mentoring, this is the perfect way for alumni to plug back into the Wake Forest community.”
Future Wake Forest Connects events are intended for the Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas and New York City metro areas.