When I graduated from St. Thomas in 2011, I made a pledge to myself not to get overinvolved with activities for one year. I had been overloaded with activities while at UST, and also while I was in high school.
Yet, when I saw the email go out for Take a Tommie to Lunch, I knew that I had to give it a go. It was only one lunch meeting, after all, and I knew how great the program was, having participated my senior year! I have my current employment thanks to networking with a Tommie, and I knew I would want to help a student in the future. Why not start giving back now?
During my senior year, I was paired for Take a Tommie to Lunch with a great alumna who happened to work in downtown St. Paul, just a few blocks from my internship. It worked perfectly for us to meet at a restaurant in the same area. She was a sales manager for a large publication.
While I wasn’t particularly interested in sales, she had a wealth of experience at organizations that offered positions in online marketing, which is what I hoped to specialize in. She took my résumé and made plenty of notes, and over the course of the following weeks she sent me job postings and offered to connect me with people in her network. I didn’t end up finding my postgraduation job through her, but I still value the time that she put in to ensure I had a worthwhile experience.
Once I was assigned a student in the spring of 2012, I was thrilled. I quickly looked her up on LinkedIn and Facebook, trying to figure out what to talk about and how I could help her. When we met, she told me she was relieved I was a recent graduate, as I could talk about the efforts of finding relevant internship experience and a job in this economy. Thankfully, I had plenty of internships throughout my college career, so I was able to highlight how I had searched and obtained them. Usually, they were related to networking or visiting the Career Development Center!
While eating lunch with the student, I kept on thinking about what the alumna had done during our lunch my senior year. I grabbed my portfolio and pen and marked up the student’s résumé, making notes of things to follow up on. I provided advice on networking groups to join and gave her my business card, encouraging her to find me on LinkedIn. I was pleased to see an invite from her later that night!
If you are considering participating in the Take a Tommie to Lunch program, I couldn’t recommend it more. I found it to be a valuable experience from both sides. As a student, I know there is nothing that makes you feel more important in college than when a successful professional takes you to lunch and is truly invested in helping you in your professional goals. As a professional, there is no greater feeling than to know you’ve helped a student achieve the same success that you have.
The deadline to sign up for Take a Tommie to Lunch is Tuesday, March 5, on the Alumni Association website. Please do so! You will be glad you did.