Office of Alumni and Career Connections Launches to Help Students Develop Personal Career Network and Optimize their Career Path

Walsh University is transforming how we prepare students to enter the workforce confidently and to be ready for the jobs of tomorrow by launching the Office of Alumni and Career Connections. The newly established office leverages the power the alumni network, employer engagement, and community partners and connects these resources to students early in their matriculation so that they can begin to build their personal career network and foster pathways toward discovering their life purpose and launching a successful career.

Alumni and Career Connections is a cross-campus initiative that enlists faculty, staff and coaches, representing each school, division, and athletics to facilitate career conversations with students that nurture professional relationships and provides opportunities to activate their degree. In addition, the Office of Alumni and Career Connections will serve as the driver for students to develop job-ready career skills that not only make them attractive candidates but also successful in their first jobs post college and for the duration of their careers.

Leading the charge for this new initiative is Walsh alumna and Assistant Vice President of Alumni and Career Connections Stephanie Koontz.  She will lead the alumni relations team, ensuring that our cherished alumni find value in giving back to their alma mater and reconnecting with students, and the career connections team, to create strong connections with alumni, corporations, community stakeholders and students. She will also lead the campus-wide effort to expand the initiative, its resources and create a culture of collaboration that best serves the needs of our students and alumni. 

“I’ve met hundreds of Walsh alumni over the past five years, and there is one resounding theme to all of their questions – they want to know how our students are doing. Our alumni truly care and want to pay it forward,” said Koontz.  “Career Connections opens the door for endless possibilities for them to give back through time and talent, whether that’s through supporting admissions, serving as a mentor, reviewing resumes or being a part of the student experience and sharing their best practices for future career success.”

Elissa Prazer, Director of Alumni and Career Connections, will continue engaging Walsh’s growing network of alumni and friends through social events, recognition programs, networking, reunions and volunteer opportunities, while also working closely with members of the campus community to ensure the most innovative efforts are implemented to assist students and alumni in their career planning and development. 

Support that has traditionally been offered to students through Career Services has been significantly enhanced through Career Connections to include events and activities such as the Senior Social, an open-house style event where seniors can get a headshot for their LinkedIn profile and talk to alumni and others on campus who are knowledgeable about post graduate options.  The Employer Visit Series kicked off this month with a site visit to Kenan Advantage Group, where students had the opportunity to tour their facilities, meet employees who are Walsh alumni, learn about the industry and explore internship and job opportunities. It’s one of many site visits that will soon be available.  Speed Networking is a fun way for students to connect with alumni, local businesses and polish up their elevator pitch with the goal of creating a professional network and practicing for internship and job interviews.

“We are changing the game. We realize we can and we must serve our students better in terms of career preparedness,” said President Tim Collins.  “Today Walsh University is seizing the moment to begin Career Connections which will forever transform the lives of our graduates.”

Leveraging technology such as Focus 2 and Handshake, and making it part of the campus culture, will be critical to the effort. Focus 2 is a self-guided career and educational planning system while Handshake is a free app with modern features that connects college students to employers from any device. It’s different from LinkedIn in that recruiters can see their classes, extracurriculars, projects and more, and proactively reach out to those who may be a good fit. Students receive personalized job recommendations based on their major, interests and skills, and can apply to internships and jobs through the career-services platform.

The Office of Alumni and Career Connections will also engage alumni as critical partners in this effort through the Alumni in Residence and Career in Class initiatives.  The Alumni in Residence program will provide students with opportunities to meet and interact with alumni who have scheduled office hours on campus.  These professionals will be available for students and fellow alumni to access for career coaching, mock interviews, internship advice resume reviewing and more. Career in Class brings alumni and professionals to the classroom to share their real-world experiences from their chosen fields.