Bridging the gap between college and career is a challenge that every college student faces; helping students successfully bridge that gap is what MacConnect is all about.

Since 2013, Macalester’s Career Development Center has partnered with Alumni Engagement and others in Advancement to help students network in key cities. Students—accompanied by a few Mac staff members—meet with alumni who share advice about their companies, their careers, and how to avoid pitfalls in job seeking, in addition to practical advice such as how to survive in an expensive city.

San Francisco, January 11–14

Nine students—sophomores to seniors—traveled to San Francisco and the Silicon Valley to meet with Mac alumni at Google, Amazon, CircleCi, Deem, and other tech companies and start-ups. The trip focused on how technology can advance a company’s mission and how students can demonstrate the value of their liberal arts degree to technology companies.

“It was an invaluable look at what life is like as a Macalester grad in the bustling tech landscape,” says Daniel Ochoa ’18 (Miami, Fla.). “I got a firsthand look at an industry I have always dreamed of being a part of. Now I can better focus my time at Macalester and evaluate my career choices with more clarity.”

Washington, D.C., March 13–15

The nation’s capital is home to many organizations of interest to Macalester students. Eleven students met with alumni at ABC News, the World Bank, the Congressional Budget Office, Dexis Consulting Group, the Urban Institute, and more.

Alumni from the classes of 1999 to 2015 welcomed students to their work in both the public and private spheres. Two members of the Class of 2015 were themselves part of MacConnect trips, so they were especially glad to “pass it on” by hosting students at the Urban Institute.

For Julia Makayova ’18 (Minsk, Belarus), Washington was the perfect place to explore her career interests in international development and immigration law. “I committed myself to meeting as many people in my field as possible, exploring relevant organizations and applying for summer internships. A couple weeks before the trip, I reached out to my professors, internship supervisors, and other professional contacts, asking if they could connect me with relevant individuals or organizations in D.C.”

“The one-on-one informational interviews I scheduled were the most valuable part of the trip,” says Isabella Soparkar ’17 (Houston, Texas). “I am extremely grateful to the eight alumni who took time out of their busy schedules to talk with me about their work. I heard over and over again that to get a job in D.C. you really have to know people. I saw this play out when I came out of the trip with a tentative paid summer opportunity and several offers of career development help.”

Seattle, Washington, March 13–15

Starbucks, Facebook, Sustainable Business Consulting, Amazon, and Seattle Bank are some of the companies where Mac alumni welcomed students to Seattle. The trip focus was on economic development and its impact on communities. From public history to sustainable building to the latest coffee creations, students experienced Seattle in all its misty glory.

“The most valuable part of the trip,” says Carl Salvino ’19 (Seattle, Wash.), “was getting past the intimidating phase of networking and realizing that alumni are more than willing to help with whatever they can. They went through the same process of job hunting, so they are eager to bestow their wisdom and make this process easier.”

Applying for MacConnect

Interested students submit an application, resumé, transcript, statement of interest, and two faculty or staff references. Applicants must demonstrate their ability to network, conduct informational interviews, and positively represent the college. On-campus workshops demystify networking and help students clarify their objectives before the trips.

Students, who represent a variety of majors, must pay for their own flights (though financial assistance may be possible if ticket costs would prohibit participation). The college covers the costs of the hotel, ground transportation, and most meals, some of which center around alumni receptions and panel discussions.

March 27 2017

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