Student Alumni Association hosts networking opportunity

by Steffi Lee

Simpson College students and alumni never hesitate to jump at a networking opportunity to make connections with one another.

On Wednesday, March 13, Simpson’s Student Alumni Association hosted its fourth annual Mocktails, a networking event with successful alumni in various career fields. The night was a mix of food and social networking.

“[Mocktails] started out with a much smaller group, and we really wanted to grow it because the students who come really enjoy it,” said Logan Roberts, president of Student Alumni Association.

Roberts said the alumni initiatives committee under Student Alumni Association wanted to expand the opportunities to talk to alumni, so students would get the experience of practicing business etiquette.

“We also wanted to expand it so more of our alumni were coming back to campus and getting those interactions with students,” Roberts said.

In choosing alumni, Roberts said Student Alumni Association picked from a variety of different fields but still faced some struggles.

“Unfortunately, as it works, some of them who are in really different, really cool or really popular career fields aren’t always available to come back for these things,” Roberts said.

Randy Roth and Melissa Norem were among the alumni who were invited.

“I got a lot out of Simpson and got help from people at Simpson,” Roth said. “I feel like I should give back as much as possible and ultimately it energizes me too, to come back and meet the students and see how they’re doing and see how Simpson’s changing.”

Roth currently works as a managing partner at Corporate Contracts, an industry-leading sourcing and negotiations consulting firm located in Des Moines. Norem is a Commodities Trader at The Scoular Company, an employee-owned agricultural marketing company.

Norem provided students with advice about how to properly engage with others in a professional setting, such as how to give a proper handshake.

Earlier that day, Bobbi Meyer, the new internship coordinator for Career Services, sent an email to attendees with tips to make the most out of Mocktails. Students were arranged in groups for the evening to further discuss career-building topics with alumni, such as email etiquette, social media and interviewing skills.

Roth emphasized the importance of correct grammar when sending emails.

“If somebody’s trying to present an idea but there’s an emotional attachment to that in some form or another, the person who is reading it mistakes what is actually being said and maybe take it out of context,” said Roth. Maybe it’s taken in context too, but many times it is taken out of context and that reading person gets upset then with the email, without the sender even realizing that they’ve made a mistake.”

Roth provided many communication tips. Email, he said, is a good outlet for sharing facts. However, if there are emotional attachments or things that could be misinterpreted, the best form of communication is face-to-face or telephone.

Alumni stressed the benefits in building experiences for resume purposes as early as freshman year.

“Start thinking about internships as a freshman,” Roth said. “Maybe you don’t know what you’re going to do, but you know what? Go out and get a job anyway. Do something in the summer. I read a lot of resumes these days that are devoid of any work experience. Even if it’s McDonald’s or whatever during the summer, business people want to see that students have a drive and the desire to learn and to work hard. Any work experience is good.”

Another discussion topic dealt with using LinkedIn, a social media site with the world’s largest professional network. LinkedIn has grown in popularity for finding connections and job offers.

“Connect with people who you think can help you, that you can help,” Roth said. “Keep LinkedIn professional.”

Roth stressed how LinkedIn should not be of personal nature, but work experience and educational information. Even with personal social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter, everything should be as clean and professional as possible.

Students walked away with stronger ideas on how to market themselves in the professional world because of alumni advice.

“Our group that came was great, and we’re really appreciative of them,” Roberts said.

Roberts hopes more students realize the benefits of Student Alumni Association and looks forward to a larger turnout at future networking events.