Last Thursday, Nov. 9, students, faculty and alumni arrived at the City Vista Apartments in business attire, kicking off an evening of networking for Trinity professionals. Making Connections is the concerted effort of the Student Ambassadors, the Center for Experiential Learning and Alumni Relations to give Trinity students access to the broad job networks that Trinity alumni have to offer.
The San Antonio chapter of Making Connections is a widely anticipated gathering sponsored by Trinity alumni where students get the opportunity to meet people that have found careers in fields they are interested in. Making Connections is an opportunity to engage with the local Trinity community organized by Alumni Relations and the Center for Experiential Learning and Career Success.
Around 50 Trinity alumni and students enjoyed an elegant gathering with a scenic view of downtown from the fourth floor of City Vista. The purpose was to encourage current students and alumni to meet each other in order to expand their contacts within Trinity community.
“The purpose of the event is to have a support system for students once they leave Trinity,” said Elizabeth Ford, alumni volunteer coordinator for of Alumni Relations.
The organizers of the event were eager to offer students the opportunity to meet alumni in a casual environment.
“In Making Connections students can put into practice what they have learned in college. It can help them become well-rounded conversationalists and be interesting to talk to; a person needs to be both to have a meaningful dialogue,” Ford said.
“It’s a ‘networking practice’ in an intimate gathering,” said Ladystacie Rimes-Boyd, assistant director of programing and marketing at Career Services.
The event was fairly structured. For the first hour, students and alumni were split in two groups.
Next, they merged for another hour, and ended the evening splitting according to majors and interests. Students gathered in the North room to get advice on how to start conversations, good questions to ask and how to break the ice. Alumni, on the other hand, gathered in South room, where they could meet each other and get drinks from the bar.
Derick Rodgers, member of the Board of Trustees and class of 1992, conducted the event and guided students. Soon the room was filled up with clusters of people and loud conversations.
“One motive for me to come was to talk to people to see who is in a business analytics related field and see what sort of experiences they’ve done with that major,” said Shane Bono, a senior business analytics and technology major with an economics minor.
“Even though it’s an awkward experience, it’s worth it because you never know who you will meet,” said Cameron Carlin, sophomore communication major and sports management minor. “I would recommend this event to any student that would like to get a job, because it’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know.”
Making Connections lasted around three hours, and the organization was especially beneficial for those who were able to stay for the entirety of the event.
“I didn’t quite realize how much warm-up there would be before actually meeting the alumni. I only got to talk to one and a half people, which is unfortunate. But the one I did talk to for a while seemed really interested in what I was studying and hopefully she will be able to connect me to someone,” said senior Chinese studies major and English minor Annie Belleville. “The alumni are great, I just wish we had moved on to that process sooner.”
Several alumni also commented on their experience and their involvement in this type of events.
“I think Making Connections is growing and is moving in a positive direction. You can always have room for improvement, but I’ve slowly seen the number of students rise up,” said Eric Schluter, class of 2015 and member of the Alumni Board of San Antonio. “I wanna give my perspective to students, help them succeed and go beyond what I did.”
“I’ve been to this event in the past, and it’s a very meaningful experience to help the students and talk to them,” said Walter Thorman, attorney and class of 1975.
Ellen Patterson, non-alumni who attended the event, she said “It’s good to give people a leg up. Once they graduate they need a place to go, they need a profession to follow and it’s good to talk to somebody who has some experience. Patterson is a local attorney in town.
There are other cities, such as Houston, that host larger Making Connections events where students will be able to meet alumni near their hometowns. Most Making Connections events happen over winter break. For more information on future dates, go to hireatiger.trinity.edu.