I’m Missie Rennie Taylor ’68, president of the Alumnae and Alumni of Vassar College (AAVC).
AAVC’s mission is “to ignite powerful connections to Vassar, to each other, and the world,” and board members have long discussed the importance of facilitating networking among and professional development for alumnae/i.
Members of the AAVC’s Career Networking Committee have collaborated with Vassar’s Career Development and Alumnae/i Engagement offices on such successful events as Sophomore Career Connections, an innovative program that exposes students to a breadth of career choices early in their campus lives and introduces them to mentors who can provide insight about a variety of fields.
The committee also addresses the needs of alumnae/i job seekers—whether they are recent graduates or experienced professionals. This March, the committee worked with Vassar’s staff to bring “D.C. Capitol Connections,” the college’s first networking event in Washington, to fruition. Nearly 70 alumnae/i were in attendance—and since it was during Spring Break, several juniors and seniors were able to join in.
In the Capitol Connections panel “How to Win Friends, Influence People, and Get a New Job,” Heather Schwager ’95, Ritta McLaughlin ’92, and Jeffrey Weinstock ’85 spoke with mid- to senior-level professionals who were considering career or job changes.
In “Building a Powerful Network,” Jannette Swanson, assistant director of Vassar’s Career Development Office; Anesa Parker ’07; Alan Neuhauser ’09; and Vijay Das ’06 offered tips to younger professionals on how to build initial professional contacts.
During a reception after the panels, Karen Strain Smythe ’82, chair of the Career Networking Committee, welcomed networkers. She credited her liberal arts education with enabling her to be flexible in her working life and stressed the importance of professional connections. “In the end, you never know who you may meet today who will have an impact on your career down the road,” she concluded.
Jackie Wright '91, who attended the panel for mid- to senior-level professionals, says, "Participating in the Capitol Connections event was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. As a mid-career professional and career changer, it was a rare opportunity to participate in a program where both the content and format were customized to my specific needs. The panel presentation was outstanding. It was clear that the speakers had prepared well to offer guidance on their respective areas of expertise. Each speaker offered unique, specific and actionable recommendations that I could implement immediately. Best of all, I reconnected with a former gym buddy whom I had not seen since moving to a new gym about three years ago. In all of our previous conversations, we had never discovered that we are both Vassar graduates! It has been wonderful to reconnect and to be reminded that it really is a small world. Vassar graduates are everywhere!"
While Capitol Connections was the first such Vassar career development event held in D.C., the Vassar Club of New York has hosted regular networking events and career panels focused on technology, nonprofits, law, and more. Other clubs around the country plan to follow in the footsteps of these successful career initiatives.
Look to future “AAVC Corner” columns for other professional development opportunities and for more about the myriad ways in which AAVC membership—a status automatically conferred to alumnae/i—benefits you.
Missie Rennie Taylor ’68