Over the next six Tuesdays, about 30 Hopkins alumni will offer undergraduates bits of the wisdom they've collected in the years since they left the Homewood campus to strike out on their own.
They're here for the annual Career Symposium organized by the Second Decade Society, an alumni group from the School of Arts and Sciences; the Office of Career Planning and Development; and undergraduates. Alums who are leaders in their fields will participate in panel discussion groups every Tuesday at 5 p.m. in the Garrett Room of the MSE Library to offer students an inside view of their careers. The symposium has been held for five years, and organizers say it gets bigger every year, sometimes drawing hundreds of students for each session.
"I think one reason why it's been such a success is that the students help plan it," says Jill Paulson, director of the Second Decade Society. "They know what kind of career questions students are asking, and they know how to generate excitement among the student body."
The Second Decade Society is a leadership development organization for the Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences.
The 7-year-old organization has 134 members, all alums of the school, who are leaders in their professions and communities, elected 10 to 20 years after graduation. The group's primary mission is to raise money to support and strengthen the course offerings in the School of Arts and Sciences and to promote leadership among its undergraduates. About 30 members of the society will travel from New York, Washington, D.C., and elsewhere to participate in this year's symposium.
The symposium starts Tuesday, Feb. 3, with five alumni who will talk about health care; the group is a mixture of top medical professionals in private practice and in research in a variety of disciplines. On Feb. 10, the panel will be comprised of financiers and bankers; Feb. 17, business owners and entrepreneurs; Feb. 24, professionals in the communications field; March 3, members of the legal profession; and March 10, alumni who work in government, non-profits and education.
It was the panel of leaders in business and financial services that was the surprise big hit last year: Its attendance surpassed that of the health care panel, which has typically been the biggest draw.
"There seems to be a trend of students entering employment right after college," says Patricia Matteo, director of the Office of Career Planning and Development. "Of course, we will always have a high percentage of students who go right into graduate school, but more and more students seem to be either waiting a few years before graduate school or gravitating towards other fields."
That's why the annual career symposium is increasingly important on this campus, Matteo says. It's an excellent way for students to get a sense of the available opportunities and to network with people who are in a position to guide them.
"It's also a really important way to shape a cadre of dedicated alumni," adds Matteo, who says that her list of Hopkins alums who volunteer to talk with new graduates is one of her office's most important resources. "The students who are helped by alums are the ones who come back after they graduate and offer their services. They remember how it felt to be offered help by a stranger based on their ties to the university, and they want to do the same for someone else."