This past summer, over 100 Swarthmore students and alumni of the Tri-College Consortium gathered at the law firm Lowenstein Sandler in New York City for the Swarthmore Business Network Summer Intern Reception. The event brought together people working in the New York metropolitan area.
The Summer Intern Reception was the 6th annual event hosted by members of the Swarthmore Business Network, a group that aims to connect alumni of the Tri-Co across different professional paths with students.
“2009 is when we first got into this idea [of a business group],” said Geoff Semenuk, the Associate Director of Alumni & Parent Engagement at the Swarthmore Advancement Office. “Several alums conceived of the notion of a ‘home-grown’ network … [at first] we didn’t know if LinkedIn was the best communication platform, because the platform was still very young.”
This idea has since expanded, with get-together events across the United States and abroad. “At first we would have Happy Hours for alums in Businesses, first in New York, and then San Francisco, South Bay, Boston, Philly and D.C.. We just recently established new branches in Tokyo and London.” Semenuk said.
Most of the students came with alumni mentors, whom they had been working with during the summer. A large number were recent graduates looking to reconnect with their college friends and to give advice to underclassmen. “I really want to convince him to apply to our company – I think he’d be a great fit here!” one alumna who graduated in 2015 said, after speaking with a current student. After two years of graduate school, she was preparing to become a full time analyst at BlackRock, an investment management firm.
“We love connecting with current students, but often don’t have the time to do so,” Swarthmore Business Network co-founder Robert Steelman ‘92 said. Steelman hopes to bridge Swatties’ critical thinking strengths with their future careers, regardless of sector. He made an effort to speak with nearly every attendee during the course of the event.
“I’ve met and connected with so many students from this event. It is a great opportunity to get to know them personally and tell them what’s happening in the real world out there,” said Steve Kargman ‘82, who studied Political Science at Swarthmore and now teaches part-time on international debt restructuring at a university in China. He has encountered many international students and alumni during his annual visits to Beijing and Shanghai.
“It’s not just passive involvement…there are active efforts in this,” Semenuk emphasized. Throughout the past eight years, the Swarthmore Business Network has transformed from a small online group to a two-thousand-member society. Such collective efforts have been well received by both students and graduates.
The Swarthmore Business Network will meet again next summer for NYC-based interns. They will also be organizing events in other cities throughout the year.
Featured image courtesy of the author.