Johns Hopkins Gazette: February 6, 1995

Second Decade Society Forms Link Between Alumni, Students

Symposium, award
contribute to efforts
to help shape careers

By Lisa Mastny

     Despite what its name may suggest, the Second Decade Society
is not an organization of lingering students who haven't quite
made it to graduation.  
     Actually, it's just the opposite. All the 135 members of
this elective organization have not only made it to graduation,
but have also gone on to become leaders in their professions and
communities.  They continue to contribute their considerable
talents to the Hopkins community, serving as the leadership
development organization for the School of Arts and Sciences and
assisting faculty, staff and students in areas with specific
     Since it was founded five years ago, the Second Decade
Society, composed of undergraduate alumni of the School of Arts
and Sciences who are elected 10 to 20 years after graduation, has
proved invaluable in establishing links between successful alumni
and students seeking career advice.  
      "Often the best career advice a student can receive comes
from someone who has been through Hopkins, has been successful in
a particular field and, most importantly, who knows what the
expectations are for that field," said Jill Paulson, SDS
     Among its many initiatives to make alumni resources
available to students, the Second Decade Society, along with the
Office of Career Services, sponsors a yearly career symposium,
bringing together panels of alumni from a variety of backgrounds
to discuss the ins and outs of their professions.  Following the
brief presentations, during which panel members describe their
backgrounds as well as the expectations of a particular field,
students are encouraged to ask questions about anything from the
work environment to how to market themselves. 
     "With more and more students going to work immediately after
college, they're going to be competing with students who come
from graduate and business schools and who already have the
experience in how to market themselves.  Our students are going
to have to familiarize themselves with the professional world
before they leave," Paulson said.  
     According to Student Council president Jamie Eldridge, the
SDS Career Symposium is the most successful program around to
help Hopkins students in their career development.  
     "Hopkins has immense resources in the country and around the
world, but the university has to reach out, to connect
undergraduates to the world and to other fields that alumni excel
in," Eldridge said.  "With events like the symposium, Hopkins
students can hopefully get a competitive edge by utilizing alumni
     In the past, the symposium has attracted a diverse
cross-section of the student body, from freshmen beginning to
figure out their career paths to seniors frantically trying to
figure out how to enter the job market.  No matter who comes to
listen to them, though, most alumni tend to offer similar advice.
     "Of course the No. 1 thing alumni encourage students to do
is network," Paulson said. "But they also tell them to take other
courses they are interested in, not just all pre-med or all
political science.  The most important lesson to get across is
that people want to see well-roundedness."
     The 1995 SDS Career Symposium begins with a panel discussion
led by alumni in the health care profession, which will be held
on Monday, Feb. 13, at 5 p.m. in the AMR1 Multipurpose Room. 
Speakers will include John Colmers (B.A. '75), executive director
of Maryland Health Care Access and Cost Review; Susan Tucker
(B.A. '75), division chief of the Maryland Department of Health
and Mental Hygiene; Leslie Matthews (B.A. '73), chief of
orthopedic surgery at Union Memorial Hospital; and Frank Spellman
(B.A. '72), vitrioretinal surgeon and director of Retina Services
at Howard University Hospital.     
     Other panels will be held consecutive weeks and cover four
additional career fields: law, business, communications and
financial services.      
     Organizing the yearly Career Symposium is only a fraction of
the responsibility of the SDS members, however. Throughout the
rest of the school year, these alumni serve as personal advisers
to students seeking specific career advice through the SDS Career
Advising Program, which is run in conjunction with the Office of
Career Services. By establishing specialized, one-on-one
communication between SDS alumni and students, the program goes
one step beyond the resources of both the Alumni Career Network
and the Office of Career Services, which provide only a broad
introduction to a specific career. 
     "If the students who come to the Office of Career Services
have a fairly focused idea about what they're interested in and
need information about particular areas or career fields, we try
to match them up with an SDS adviser," said Jane Nini, assistant
director of Career Services. "The SDS program complements ours by
taking students to the next stage in the career development
     The SDS Career Advising Program acquaints students with the
role of networking in the job search; it does not find jobs or
secure interviews for students.
     "In the past, advisers have become real mentors for the
students, and career opportunities have arisen from the strong
connections made, but usually they just help students figure out
what they need to do to reach a particular goal," said Paulson. 
Not only do they discuss their own experiences in the profession,
but SDS advisers may also conduct mock interviews, review cover
letters and rsums, and be honest with students about their
chances of employment in the field.     
     In addition to its role in career development, the Second
Decade Society supports a number of other initiatives in the
Hopkins community, responding to both student and faculty needs. 
For example, funds raised by the society support the SDS Career
Development Professorship, held by Maria Zuber, associate
professor in Earth and Planetary Sciences, as well as the popular
dean's fellowship courses taught by upper-level graduate
students.  The society also contributes its networking skills to
the admissions process, assisting the Admissions Office in
recruiting African American students through phone-a-thons as
well as arranging annual receptions for accepted students in New
York and San Francisco.
     Beginning this year, SDS will award a yearly $1,000 prize to
a graduating senior who has displayed considerable leadership,
either at Hopkins or in the surrounding community, and who has
helped raise the public profile of the university.  Information
on the award will be sent out to students, faculty, staff,
community groups and student organizations beginning Feb. 8, and
nominations will be accepted until March 1.  The final decision,
made by SDS in conjunction with Dean of Students Susan Boswell,
will be based on both nominations and subsequent interviews.

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