No matter where you are in your career—newly minted, nearing retirement or somewhere in-between—the UVA Alumni Association offers an array of ways to help.
Take, for example, Amanda Panarese (Col ’99). She isn’t just the director of the Association’s Alumni Career Services; she’s also a satisfied customer.
After 13 years in corporate and law firm marketing, picking up an MBA along the way, she had come to a crossroads. So, she availed herself of ACS one-on-one career advising, a free service to Alumni Association members. It helped her assess how she matched up with a job posting that had caught her eye and, in turn, land a career counseling post at UVA’s Darden School of Business.
“When I was in a time of reflection and research, the Alumni Association was there for me,” Panarese says.
Four years later, when the woman who had advised her, former ACS Director Emily Bardeen, announced her retirement, Panarese won the job to succeed her. “I’m sitting at her old desk, in her old office, continuing that and showing the power that it can have,” says Panarese, who joined the Alumni Association team in August. Here’s a quick overview of some of the services ACS provides to help alumni during all phases of their careers.
- One-on-one advising. As you would guess, it’s the most tailored of the Association’s career services. Alumni can schedule an appointment to meet in-person, via Skype or on the phone with Panarese or ACS Senior Career Advisor Liz Sprouse. Locals or those visiting Grounds can also stop by on Thursdays for the weekly walk-in session.
- Interactive webinars. The Friday Forum webinar series gives alumni live instruction and the opportunity for Q&A with experts on a range of topics. October and November continue a series on “Boomer Entrepreneurship.” Says Panarese, “We really try to hit on as many various topics as we can to keep the multi-generational, multi-career-phase population engaged.” Miss the live session and you can still watch or listen to past programs in the Friday Forum archives.
- UVA-targeted job postings. UVAlumnijobs.com lists hundreds of sortable jobs from employers who know the benefits of hiring UVA graduates. The ACS website offers links to other job boards as well.
These are just a sampling. The best way to get started—and to get more information and services—is to visit the ACS website.
Meant to mentor: the alumni-student connection
For alumni looking to help UVA students in their careers, the University offers various opportunities. Here are two.
Virginia Alumni Mentoring took form in 2013 as a partnership among the College of Arts & Sciences, the UVA Career Center and the Alumni Association.
Kim Link, associate director of the Internship Center at the UVA Career Center, credits VAM with “bringing into the career development process a huge asset within UVA, which is the alumni network.” The program creates the opportunity for students to hear about “career experiences and life beyond UVA from an alum who’s walked in [their] shoes,” she says. “We put a lot of emphasis on exploring, and we think VAM is a great way to embrace career exploration.”
VAM, which just completed a 2-year pilot, has grown to more than 1,300 alumni mentors, with more than 800 students engaged in the program. VAM will soon introduce a second alumni mentoring campaign, flash mentoring, through which students can have one-time career conversations with alumni across all fields.
For more information, and to register as an alumni mentor, please go to: https://alumnimentoring.virginia.edu/.
A little over a year ago, UVA’s Career Services Office launched Career Communities, an initiative to bring together students, alumni, employers, faculty and staff in six specific fields:
- Creative arts, media and design
- Education, counseling and youth development
- Engineering, science and technology
- Public service and government
The communities host alumni panels, allow for targeted career counseling and offer more than 300 events a year. A recent evening program connected 300-plus interested students with alumni working at boutique finance firms.
“We created the communities to bring these groups together in the exploration phase,” says UVA Associate Vice President for Career and Professional Development Everette Fortner. “Then, what we saw as a need for students was, once I know what I need to do, I need the expertise to get a job in that area.”
Kate Melton is UCC’s director for Career Communities and leads the Creative Arts, Media & Design community. “We were hearing from students, both informally and formally, that they weren’t really seeing opportunities reflecting all of their interests,” Melton says. “Business world, big government jobs are the sexy jobs that people put a lot of money into recruiting for, but we didn’t see a lot of the nonprofits, science and creative work.” The communities, she says, offer three resources: advising specific to an industry interest, connections to job opportunities and access to networks, what she calls “that alumni piece.”
Melton highlighted a recent event during which six UVA alumni, all of whom work for Turner Broadcasting Station in Atlanta, hosted a virtual career panel with 40 current students. The alumni discussed their career paths and fielded questions from the students. One of the alumni was a recruiter, who later gave the students contact information to follow up if they were interested in possibly working for TBS.
As the career communities concept takes off, Melton envisions it eventually becoming a resource for alumni themselves, creating peer-to-peer networks within specific industries. “I could see it coming together in that way,” she says.