Colorado College seniors, recent graduates, and other alumni looking for a job have a big advocate on their side that they may not have considered — the CC alumni body.
Alumni can be helpful in a number of ways, according to Michael McNamee, assistant director of career volunteer initiatives in the Office of Alumni and Family Relations.
“Because of their shared experience on the Block Plan, CC alumni know what other alumni have gone through. They know the rigorous nature of the education and the quality of the graduates, and they know what their transition is like after graduation and can help navigate that transition,” McNamee says.
And sometimes, they can assist with an offer of an internship or job.
Several programs at the college are connecting job- seeking CC students or alumni with other alumni who might have opportunities for them.
One such program is Tiger Link, CC’s new mentoring platform.
The Career Center and Office of Alumni and Family Relations have partnered to provide this professional networking platform, which is compatible with Linked-In. Tiger Link, which launched this year and already has approximately 2,000 participants, connects students and recent graduates with alumni and CC parents who can assist them in exploring careers and industries, learning about companies/organizations, and answering other career-related questions.
Tiger Link also allows alumni and parents to self-select the areas they are willing to talk with students about, including career prep, studying abroad, start-ups, succeeding as an international student, and the Butler Center’s SAIL mentoring program. It offers several features with a focus on facilitating alumni and student mentoring relationships.
Through Tiger Link, CC alumni, parents, or current students can:
- Act as a career guide to current CC students and recent alumni and post job openings.
- Stay up to date on CC career initiatives and volunteer opportunities.
- Leverage their professional network to get introduced to people they should know.
- Help advance their career through connections to insiders who work for top employers.
According to McNamee, numerous CC alumni hire other CC grads for open positions or internships in their companies or nonprofits. And Tiger Link provides a good place to post job openings where they know other CC alumni will be looking.
Another program the college offers is Tiger Trek, which is also a partnership between the Career Center and Office of Alumni and Family Relations. This fall during Block 2 block break, the pilot Tiger Trek program took a group of 12 current CC students to Washington, D.C., to visit eight different locations to meet and network with CC alumni hosts, highlighting prestigious alumni and potential career paths. Tiger Trek visited the office of U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette ’79 of Colorado, as well as the New York Times D.C. bureau, Population Services International, U.S. Agency for International Development, the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Department of State, and the World Affairs Council.
For more information about Tiger Link, Tiger Trek, or other career volunteer opportunities, contact michael.mcnamee@colorado college.edu.
Another unique “matchmaking” opportunity offered by the college is the Public Interest Fellowship Program — a partnership between Colorado College and nonprofit organizations along the Colorado Front Range. PIFP offers paid summer and yearlong fellowships, providing CC students and recent graduates with meaningful opportunities to explore career directions, gain practical work experience, and make an impact on the nonprofit sector and relevant social issues.
PIFP fellows serve in myriad capacities within their organizations, mainly focusing on policy and advocacy, research and evaluation, social media, public relations, communication, and program implementation.
PIFP is powered by CC alumni who serve as mentors, interviewers, board members, and funders.
CC alums have also stepped up by hiring PIFP fellows into their organizations. Approximately 23 percent of PIFP fellows have been hired to stay on with their organizations after their fellowship terms, according to Lani Hinkle ’83, PIFP director.
For example, a large number of CC grads — approximately 28 — have gone to work for DaVita Healthcare Partners at their headquarters in Denver in recent years. Some made connections through other CC alumni who work there; others were hired following PIFP fellowships.
Linda Reiner ’87, vice president of the Caring for Colorado Foundation, has also hired a number of CC students who served as PIFP fellows for her organization, which is a grant-making foundation dedicated to improving the health and health care of the people of Colorado.
“When I became a PIFP mentor in 2012, little did I know I would be creating an employment pipeline at Caring for Colorado Foundation,” says Reiner. “Two of the young women I mentored for PIFP, as well as our yearlong PIFP fellow at Caring for Colorado, have all ended up as ongoing employees with our organization. The PIFP program not only brought exceptional young people into our world, but it also gave us the opportunity to get to know potential staff in a meaningful way, while also seeing their skills, interests, and abilities up close.”
“CC provides a fantastic training ground for people working in the field of philanthropy. We’ve found that our CC staff have a strong mix of hard skills (research, analysis, critical thinking, writing) and soft skills (empathy, curiosity, ability to form relationships, communication). This, combined with the CC strength of ‘getting the job done,’ thanks to years of training on the Block Plan, makes for really great new hires,” Reiner says.
Wade Buchanan ’83 is the former president of the Bell Policy Center, a public policy research and advocacy organization that works on a wide range of issues affecting the well-being of Colorado families. The Bell Policy Center signed on as a partner organization with PIFP in its first year, and since then has hosted 27 (13 summer and 14 yearlong) fellows, as well as hired staff from the PIFP ranks, each of whom, Buchanan says, “have brought great skill and insight to our organization.”
“The fellows have participated in every aspect of our work. Yearlong fellows, in particular, have conducted serious policy research, authored reports and briefs, advocated for policy change, and even testified at the state legislature. Few have these opportunities right out of college, but the quality of the students the program sends allows us to rely on them to ‘punch above their weight’ almost from day one,” Buchanan says.
Buchanan notes that one of the Bell Policy Center’s former PIFP fellows — Lizzy Stephan ’11 — was recently appointed executive director of sister organization New Era Colorado. In May, Rolling Stone named Stephan as one of the “16 young Americans shaping the 2016 election.”
Lynn Doan ’14 says Colorado College alumni and student connections and PIFP helped her get her first job since graduation and, without a doubt, every job since.
“I honestly would not be where I am today without CC’s PIFP program, and the fellowship cohort, mentoring, training, and networking opportunities I received during my fellowship,” Doan says. Because of the PIFP fellowship and her CC connections, she had the opportunity to build a strong foundation in her career and significantly expand her professional network.
“Through PIFP, I gained meaningful work experience immediately after graduation.
“I began my professional career as a strategic engagement fellow at the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative (CCHI) where I worked on diverse projects in the healthcare field. After my yearlong fellowship, I was able to work as an independent contractor in the oral healthcare field and served as a project coordinator for various programs locally and nationally. I served as a research assistant at the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine applying my recent work experience to conduct research. During this time, I was also applying to dental schools, and I graduated the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine in August 2016.”