Alumni Mentors Share Expertise, Promote Networking
By Mary Joan Hahn
SPOKANE, Wash. – Gonzaga University alumnus Matt Sullivan (’03), a senior business development manager at Amazon, recalls the daunting challenge he faced entering the job market. The experience is one reason why he will co-host a Gonzaga Trek excursion to Amazon on Jan. 12, participate in the Seattle-area Career Fair Jan. 13, and continue to engage more alumni in the vital task of helping new graduates network to find jobs.
“I remember being in the current students’ shoes, trying to start a career in a tough economy, and was grateful for the assistance I received through GAMP, the Gonzaga Alumni Mentoring Program,” he says. “I had terrific mentors who helped me develop a network, research potential opportunities, and identify a career path that was a culmination of my interests and skills. Now, it’s an honor to help in any way I can.”
Hayley Graham, a public relations major who will graduate in May, is among hundreds of Gonzaga students who are benefiting from the investment Sullivan and other Gonzaga alumni make in mentoring. She took advantage of all Career Week programs held on campus Nov. 15-19, including the Career Fair that featured 40-plus diverse companies from throughout the Northwest, speed mock interviews, and training sessions. She chose one of four Spokane Trek excursions to learn more about her profession. And, she heard Nike managers John Naekel (’99) and Zach Peach (’10) offer networking strategies at the Alumni Sharing Knowledge (ASK) event.
“The most valuable take-away I had from this experience was learning to be more comfortable when speaking with employers, and how to establish a connection with them,” said Graham, who learned her lessons so well she landed an internship with Spokane Teachers Credit Union, a highly regarded local financial institution.
Sullivan is clear about the value of GAMP and the Career Center – and the opportunity to grow the model program even further.
“The most rewarding aspect of being involved with GAMP is helping students make the valuable connections that enable their discovery of an exciting career,” Sullivan says. “I think it would be beneficial to expand and have more frequent networking and career development opportunities, not only for recent graduates but also those alums looking to change career fields.”