Alumni News

In the Spotlight: 'Cat Connections
An online career network needs more volunteers and more users

Bookmark and Share
Easy to print version

Rachel Flanagan '95

TV anchor Dan Kloeffler '99 says if there had been an alumni career network when he was a UNH student, he would have jumped at the chance to connect directly with working television journalists. That's why he didn't hesitate to volunteer when he found out he could be an online mentor for UNH students and alumni.

"I really believe that you have to be making contacts as early as you can," says Kloeffler, formerly the early-morning anchor for MSNBC and NBC. "The old saying, 'It's not what you know, it's who you know,' still applies to a certain degree."

Steve Gaumer '81

A belief in the value of alumni networking is what motivated the UNH Alumni Association to ask UNH's Research Computing Center to add the Career Mentor Network developed by the University Advising and Career Center to the alumni web site in 2007. Designed to connect students with alumni, and alumni with fellow alums, the network currently has more than 800 alumni signed up to provide advice.

Rachel Genzer Flanagan '95, a communications manager at Deloitte in New York City, is one of those volunteers. "It's a great way to better understand what your options are as a student," she says. "As an English major, I was a dime a dozen when I graduated," she adds. "I had no idea that jobs like mine were available."

Jim Davis '03

Volunteer Steve Gaumer '81 is in his third career. He believes making connections is an important skill. "When I went through my last career transition 15 years ago, one thing I learned very quickly is that networking is part science and part art, but it's invaluable," says Gaumer, a senior vice president of wealth management with Morgan Stanley Smith Barney in Boston. "It's not just about finding a job, it's about building a reference base."

Jim Davis '03, who works in marketing for the Boston Celtics, says as a network volunteer he tries to provide students and alumni with "some insight from someone who is in the field day-to-day. I also try to offer them some direction, in terms of studies, internships and connections, that will help them be more successful when looking for a job."

Karen McCusker '86

Recipients of advice say they are grateful. When she was torn between pursuing a career in teaching or acting, Nichole Saccoccia '05 connected with several alumni-mentors, including Joe Pullia '95, who after a career in broadcasting with the Yankees became a fifth-grade teacher.

"He (Pullia) made me feel awesome about my life and being at a crossroads," said Saccoccia, who is now pursuing a master's in education but hopes someday to act. "He said to me, 'Whatever your goal is, do it 105 percent. You won't know if you can do it if you don't try, and if you don't fail once in a while you can never learn from your mistakes.'"

Dan Kloeffler '99

Yet the volunteer network is something of an undiscovered gem. Karen Curesky McCusker '86, the chief legal officer at IAE International Aero Engines AG, is puzzled why she hasn't been contacted. "I just can't help but think that when I was a student or a recent graduate, how I would have loved to have had a contact with someone in the field who would have wanted to be my mentor," she says.

As a result of feedback from alumni like McCusker, the Alumni Association and the University Advising and Career Center plan an initiative this year to increase both awareness of the network and the number of volunteers. "How better to learn about a job or career than from someone who does it every day?" asks Judy Spiller, associate provost and interim director of UACC. ~

HTML Comment Box is loading comments...