The Colgate Network: Facilitating Career Exploration and Inspiration

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The Colgate alumni community has an abundance of professional experience to share. As part of its four-year career development plan, Career Services offers students ways to explore their interests and connect with alumni who share them. Each fall semester, the office presents two programs centered around these goals.

Career Exploration Week ran September 26–29, hosting a series of virtual panels led by alumni across 11 industries, including applied sciences, marketing, sustainability, and medicine. More than 250 Colgate students participated in the program to hear about personal career journeys, including how they identified their values, skills, and interests.

“Getting to hear a panel of alumni talk about their career and life experiences is a really invaluable opportunity that provides insights you won't find just doing online research,” said attendee Rachel Plasky ’25.

Alumni spoke about their current positions and career tracks, including how they leveraged Colgate’s liberal arts academics and campus life to prepare for the professional world. For some, the event was a full circle — contributing to the Colgate network that helped them during their undergraduate years. “By participating in these conversations I hope to give back to current students in the same way that alumni supported me as I explored career paths and industries when I was on campus,” said Lauren Casella ’16, senior manager at American Express, who shared details about her career in marketing and analytics.

After the panels, students were able to engage in more informal conversations with alumni to have their questions answered. 

Ian Gisiger ’26 spoke over the phone with several panelists after the event. “They all said to keep them updated on my progress and made it clear they would be happy to connect with me in the future, which was a comforting reassurance. It feels great to have people that I could reach out to with questions or inquiries.”   

As a complement to Career Exploration Week, students were invited to take the next step and be paired over winter break with a Colgate graduate in their fields of interest. Five hundred students registered for Alumni Career Conversations that were virtual and self-scheduled, offering an easy and valuable way to network. This informal networking allows students to make personal connections and learn about industries while having their specific questions answered. Registrants participate in networking coaching during an interactive orientation session. 

Last year, Hope Swetow ’24 signed up for Alumni Career Conversations with an interest in exploring law and communications. Career Services paired her with a recent Colgate graduate working in communications at a Manhattan law firm. “I didn’t know my two professional interests could intersect, but I came with tons of questions which she answered in depth,” she said. “Our conversation inspired me to pursue a communications summer internship with a legal advocacy organization and get my first on-campus job.”

Rachel Richie, assistant director for career exploration programming, noted the contributions of the Colgate network to current students. “Many enthusiastic volunteers have stepped up to connect with students through these two programs,” she said. “Working with our amazing alumni has been a testament to the strength of Colgate pride long after graduation.”