By Justin Rose
Emma Snyder ’14, a senior Sociology major, knew she wanted to move to Boston after graduation. There was one problem—she didn’t know anyone in Boston. So what could she do?
That’s the question that Whitman Connect hopes to answer. The database can search 16,000+ Whitman alumni by a number of categories, which is precisely what Snyder did. “I started reaching out to Whitman alumni, especially sociology majors.”
Snyder was surprised by the enthusiasm she encountered from those she contacted. Before she knew it, the alumni she spoke with had put her in touch with other alumni in fields directly related to her interests. One of her contacts, a fellow sociology major, distributed her resume and talked to recruiters on her behalf.
“I’m amazed by how eager Whitman alumni are to help out Whitman students!” she said. “They have already mentioned taking me out for drinks and showing me the best vegetarian places once I get [to Boston]”.
The database has many other uses. In addition to inquiring about job openings at specific companies, students have been able to explore the careers of alumni who shared their major. Many alumni are happy to discuss with enrolled students how they got into the fields they’re currently working in.
“After attending an info session on how to use Whitman Connect, I decided to start searching for alumni who had experience working in travel and tourism,” said Tabor Martinson ‘15.
After a careful database search and talking to several graduates, he found the profile of an alumna named Sheri Tousey ’84 who matched his interests perfectly. He sent her an email asking for suggestions or advice for entering the travel and tourism sector and she replied with her cell phone number, telling him to give her a call.
“I called her the next day and we spent over an hour on the phone with her giving me tons of helpful advice and offering me a job to work with her this summer,” says Martinson, “She has been unbelievably kind and generous with her time and knowledge.”
During her search, Snyder fell in love with a startup called Hubspot in Boston. The only issue was that she didn’t know how to get her foot in the door there. Discouraged, she asked the Boston contacts she made if they knew anyone that worked there and originally they said they didn’t know of anyone who did.
“Then, a few days later, an alumnus emailed me back that he played basketball with two guys who work there and would be happy to introduce me over email,” she said. “It was quite serendipitous.”
Martinson agreed that the Whitman connection provided a unique chance for networking opportunities.
“I participated in the KORU program this spring break in Seattle, [and] there was Dartmouth College graduate who was in my group,” he said. “He said he wished that Dartmouth had some sort of resource or database to keep track of alumni’s whereabouts and careers so that recent grads or students could look through them to make connections.”
“I told him that Whitman had that exact thing and that I used it to find an internship this summer.”
Reflecting upon her experience, Snyder urged students to reach out to alumni for help and advice. “You never know what connections are out there!” she said.
To register for Whitman Connect, contact the Student Engagement Center at email@example.com or via phone at 509-527-5183.
** Originally named “Whitman Online”, the name of the directory in this article has been updated to reflect the current title “Whitman Connect”.