As they strive to attract students who are looking for any and every advantage to land a job after graduation, it’s not uncommon for colleges and universities to highlight their alumni networks. And with thousands of successful alumni working in virtually every industry, Grove City College’s Career Services Office (CSO) routinely taps into that network to generate leads for student job seekers.
“Our alumni partnerships are a key distinctive at the College and much of that is because of the close-knit ties that are formed at a smaller residential college with a core set of faith values that unifies the campus community,” Mandy Sposato, director of Career Services, said. “I have numerous stories of alumni reaching out to us with a willingness to assist students in their career preparation and serve as advocates for them in finding jobs and internships at their places of employment.”
But the idea that a shared alma mater will be a guarantee for opening the right doors and leading straight to a dream job is a fantasy. While an applicant’s academic pedigree may be a factor in hiring, successful job seekers need to have the skills to do the job, as well as the character, ambition and knowledge to get it.
And that’s where GCC alumni come in. They go above and beyond when it comes to helping their fellow Grovers launch and pursue successful careers, and students are encouraged to take advantage of the opportunities they have to connect with alumni to gain insights into industries and the skills that are needed to pursue particular career paths.
As part of its mission to help students discern their vocational callings, the CSO goes deeper than just setting up interviews with alumni recruiters or posting job openings from them. Through a variety of initiatives, the CSO creates connections with alumni that can provide benefits for students far beyond just getting that first job.
Alumni Career Panel Night is one of those initiatives. This year’s event included more than 70 alumni representing more than a dozen industries and professional fields who explained the opportunities available to students and, perhaps more importantly, offered advice and insight that can help them land that second, third or fourth job over the four decades of their working lives. In addition to the alumni guests, the evening also involved nearly every constituency on campus, from faculty moderators to student organizations that sponsored different panel rooms.
“We are grateful to have so many alumni who are willing to come back to give of their time to invest in students’ professional development and help them ultimately gain clarity in pursuing a career path where they can utilize their God-given skills and strengths,” Sposato said. “It’s a true testament to their passion for the college and our students.”
"The Alumni Career Panel Night gives us the opportunity to share some real-world experiences with the students and to provide them with a possible road map on how to enter a particular career field. It’s a great way for us to give back to the school by helping prepare students for life in the workforce after college,” Andy Hromyak ’95, special agent with the ATF, said.
Bob Terhune ’09, CAE Manager at Uber Advanced Technology Group in Pittsburgh, returned to campus to sit on a panel. “I enjoy opportunities to connect with the next generation of engineers and students coming out of GCC and help them bridge that gap between the classroom and industry,” he said.
For many alums, it’s about paying it forward. “During my time as a student at Grove City College, I was surrounded by people – faculty, staff and students – who were not only intelligent and inquisitive but who also had integrity and really cared about one another, and my relationships with those wonderful people have continued long after graduation,” said Jana Volante Walshak ’07, an attorney with Fox Rothschild LLP. “I think that is what makes Grove City College so special – the character of its students and alumni. I give back to the College and to its students to do my part in perpetuating that great tradition.”
Grove City College has an outstanding record when it comes to graduate success. Ninety-six percent of alumni are employed or attending graduate school within six months of graduation. Average starting and mid-career salaries for GCC alumni are above the national average and graduates report a high level of job satisfaction, according to compensation-tracking website PayScale.