Walking the path of life

Jeff Christoff

So, you don’t necessarily want to follow in your parents’ footsteps?On April 25, many Lawrentians got to try out someone else’s. The Career Center and the Alumni Association Board of Directors recently held the 10th annual “Following in Their Footsteps,” a chance for current Lawrentians to meet alumni and chat about their post-graduation lives.

“It’s an informal networking opportunity; a chance for current students to meet and interact with alumni, and basically learn about the alums’ experiences since leaving Lawrence,” said career information specialist Gracia (Grace) Kutney.

“It’s also an important time for students to get an idea of what to do with their majors and get an idea of the opportunities that exist,” she added.

Planning for this year’s “Footsteps” began in early fall of 2002, with the Career Center doing a lot of behind-the-scenes work, while the AABD contacted alumni. They felt that their work proved to be worth it.

“I think it was very successful this year,” Kutney said. “We had a really good turnout of students. They seemed to linger a lot more this year and have really long conversations with the alums.”

Kutney was particularly impressed by the number of first-year students and sophomores who attended. Rather than shyly standing around, “A number of first-year students introduced themselves to alums and talked about careers, career paths, and goals,” she said.

Compared to years past, this year’s version was “a little bit cozier,” according to Kutney, because of the different room set-up that allowed easier access to the alums. One helpful feature was a chart that showed in what career areas graduates of different majors have worked.

Kutney also noted the meaningful contacts that have been made in years past, from internship opportunities to resum requests and job connections.

“I know that many of our students don’t know how much access they have for alums,” Kutney said. “The Career Center constantly does alum searches for students,” she said, though she stressed that such information is more about seeking their advice and less about asking them for jobs.

A wide range of alumni attended the event, with graduation classes of attendees ranging from 1953 to 2002. Alumni came from across the country, including both coasts, the South, and the Midwest, and at least one hopped the pond and flew in from Scotland. More important than age or location, though, were the varied backgrounds of the alumni.

“It always astounds me what diverse experiences are in that room,” Kutney said. “It just tells you what a liberal arts degree does.