“When I was a student, ‘networking’ was a word I didn’t like very much,” Libby Panhorst ’13 told the crowd of students and alumni. “But I’ve found it’s really just talking to people, asking good questions and articulating what it is that you want.”
Kenyon students past and present engaged in plenty of good conversation when the Kenyon Regional Association of Cleveland brought 75 people together at the Market Garden Brewery one night in January.
Ian Bell ’18, an economics major from Chagrin Falls, Ohio, took advantage of the opportunity to meet alumni of all ages who are already established in careers. “This feels good, and I’m going to see what connections I can make tonight,” he said.
Staff members from Kenyon’s Career Development Office were on hand to help make connections. The Cleveland gathering was similar to the dozens of events that Kenyon alumni groups across the country host each year to help students and recent graduates succeed after graduation.
Pattie Rossman Skrha '88, enrollment director at the Urban Community School in Cleveland, was eager to give students a chance to meet professionals in a friendly, non-intimidating space. “This is a safe environment that helps them get out of themselves,” she said.
Tate Deskins ’13 found alumni ready to offer support and advice. Deskins has another year of study before he earns his doctorate in physics from Case Western Reserve University, and he is actively exploring his options. Deskins discussed teaching opportunities with lawyers Melissa Bertke ’01 and Rhonda Baker Debevec ’93, who also suggested he consider doing work as an expert witness for lawyers trying to understand and explain complicated science.
To help make connections, attendees were given a bingo card to hunt through the crowd to find Kenyon alumni who had done such things as “had a child attend Kenyon” or “run a marathon” or “had six or more jobs since graduation.” Everyone who completed the card got a prize.
Susan Berger ’85, one of the hosts of the event and the chief external relations officer at the Positive Education Program, said, “The challenge is to make everyone feel comfortable and that this is not merely transactional.”
Jody Tyrpak '91, one of the event hosts and the director of strategic initiatives at Assurance, Ernst & Young, said, “I got my first job from a Kenyon alum. Networking is easy to do with Kenyon alumni.”