Speed dating? Speed shopping? Now there’s speed networking! Lehigh’s Center for Career and Professional Development (CCPD) is providing valuable networking and mentoring opportunities for students from alumni who have similar professional fields of interest or experience. Using Lehigh’s extensive alumni base, a virtual ‘speed networking’ event was launched to provide undergraduate students with professional advice and networking opportunities.
How Virtual Networking Works
During the fall 2015 semester, CCPD hosted its first virtual ‘speed networking’ event, using an online platform called Brazen. The program allows students to connect with alumni with similar academic backgrounds through 10-minute one-on-one instant-message conversations held on computers, tablets, or smart phones. Participants don’t see one another, they see the instant message. The first networking event was held in December with 32 alumni and 20 students from the College of Business and Economics (CBE) completing 110 chats.
During an instant-messaging session, students ask career-related questions and can learn about opportunities such as internships and coops. Students are also encouraged by CCPD to continue the discussions by connecting with alumni through LinkedIn, email, or phone.
Lori Kennedy ’93G, the director of the Center for Career and Professional Development, said that the Brazen platform was previously used to connect alumni to alumni. She realized that this would also be a great way for students and alumni – who are spread all over the world – to connect via the computer.
“Alumni who have experienced career success want to share their insight and advice with current students,” said Kennedy, who added that the department received a lot of positive feedback from alumni who were excited to connect with students. Three more speed-networking events were held in March that included connecting alumni and students within the College of Arts and Sciences, the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science, and CBE.
“I got a lot of great advice from different alumni about choosing a major, searching for internships, and, eventually, settling on a career path,” said Emily Walczyk ’19, who participated in the CBE networking event in December.
Walczyk, who is focusing on bioengineering, said that although she isn’t necessarily looking for a business-related career, the alumni she spoke with put her in contact with colleagues who were involved in the pharmaceutical industry.
“Overall, I found it to be a very helpful and beneficial event,” she said.