By: Brooke Schultz
Volunteer Coordinator Jennifer Hutton was inspired to create Path to Passion after watching her son search through colleges, trying to find the right fit. He wanted to major in economics, but didn’t want to work in a bank. So Path to Passion was born, showing students what Washington College alumni can do with their majors.
“I created an online resource that helps prospective students, current students, and other alumni search alumni profiles by career field and college major. From those profiles submitted to us by alumni, we have preserved these great WC memories and created a resource that also includes LinkedIn and other social media links,” Hutton said.
As Volunteer Coordinator for the Alumni Office, Hutton works with Career Services, admissions, and professors to create opportunities for alumni to engage with current students. She calls, emails, and reaches out to alumni she’s met in town or on campus, and is sometimes referred by professors or friends at the school.
“The WC alumni community has so much to offer: jobs, internships, career and life experience,” Hutton said. “Many also donate to the College to help support scholarships and many other great programs.”
Part of engaging with the alumni community is to bring them back to campus for panels, talking about their time at WC, the jobs they’ve had, careers they currently have, and answering any questions students might have.
These events are beneficial for both current students and alumni, Hutton said. The alumni are able to connect with WC and are “able to give their time as treasure to a place they love” while students are able to network and gain wisdom. Having these professionals on campus also helps students gain jobs, internships, and job shadowing opportunities in fields they may have an interest in.
While some students stroll in with resumes ready and others come in twenty minutes late, Hutton said, “All walk away with something, pride, a piece of knowledge, a good line for an interview, a trick to his or her favored trade.”
“There’s a lot to be said about listening,” Hutton said, when trying to figure out who to invite to speak at a panel. “I listen to the president and others to see where WC wants to grow. As an example, there was a lot of chatter about communications and media on campus. Through the Path to Passion program, I already had three alumni that were very high in connected fields.”
Hutton reached out to the producer of WJZ-TV through a WC friend and assembled a panel of three women currently working in media. During the panel, three alumni from 1995 to 2010 talked about their experiences with their majors and how they transitioned into communications and media fields.
This is only one of the panels Hutton and Career Development has planned. Recently, on Nov. 12, there was a screening of Academy Award winning film producer Tammy Tiehel Stedman’s, Class of 1986, film “Slow Learners.” The event featured a conversation with Dr. Michele Volansky, Class of 1990, and an introduction by Matt Weir, Class of 1990.
On Nov. 17 at 5 p.m. in Hynson Lounge, alumni guests Geoffrey R. Garinther, Class of 1981, Stacey McEvoy, Class of 2005, and K. Edward Raleigh, Class of 2008, will be discussing Insider Trading and forming the Washington College Law Affinity Network.
On Jan. 22 and 23, 16 career and life changing sessions will be given by over 25 alumni professionals and three guest speakers.
“There are so many amazing paths taken and stories to be told,” Hutton said. “I try to find different opportunities for the volunteers that have been on panels while still keeping them in their comfort zone.”
Hutton has plans for plenty of more panels, like pre-med, pre-dental, psychology, government, anthropology, and more.
“I have so many ideas; there are 10,000 active alumni and so little time,” Hutton said.