The Offices of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving recently hosted a networking social for Bowdoin seniors and members of the Alumni Council. Guests mingled on the terrace of Moulton Union in the warmth of a sunny evening to discuss life and careers after Bowdoin.
For the students, the event was a chance to gain networking experience on common ground with alumni. Tristan McCormick ’13 described the evening as “an opportunity to talk to alumni who want to talk to us. We have a shared experience, and because there are a lot of younger alumni here, they are closer to that process of graduating and starting a career.”
Jonathan Song ’13 said, “It’s great to learn about what Bowdoin was like when they were here, and also what it’s like to transition from college to the work force.”
Some students found alumni who share their major and are now applying this major in the professional world. Nikki Kuna ’13 had such an experience talking to Sydney Asbury ’03, both government majors. Asbury was the campaign manager for Massachusetts Gov. Deval L. Patrick’s gubernatorial campaign and is now a consultant at Boston-based Northwinds Strategies, which specializes in public relations for corporations and political strategies. Kuna, who is interested in public relations and marketing, said that Asbury “was able to give me insight into her career and what I maybe want to do in the future. It was great to meet her because she has a connection to Bowdoin and she really understands where we are right now.”
A few alumni at the event drew significant buzz because of their influential positions at big-name companies, including Andy Serwer ’81, editor-in-chief at Fortune; Dave Willner ’06, content policy manager at Facebook; and Matt Roberts ’93, executive producer at the Late Show with David Letterman. All three had flocks of students around them all evening. Despite their intimidating titles, they pointed out to students that they didn’t have all the answers right away after receiving their diplomas.
Serwer spent a year backpacking across Europe after graduating and only started working because his neighbors back home in Maryland offered him a job. Willner’s story reads more like a quirky romantic comedy than a ruthless climb to success: He met his wife, Charlotte Carnevale, when they lived in Hyde as first-years. After they graduated, he wanted to remain on the East Coast while she wanted to take a job at Facebook in California. He told her she shouldn’t take the job. “It was the most wrong I’ve ever been,” he said. Luckily, Carnevale-Willner took the job, leading Willner to his current positions, both at Facebook and as husband of his Bowdoin sweetheart. And Roberts started his career in the ticket office of the Late Show, working his way up to writer and executive producer.
The alumni, meanwhile, were able to make connections to students who would soon enter the working world and be faced with the choice whether to stay associated with their alma mater. Joseph Curtin ’84, attorney at Mintz Levin and Vice-Chair of the Bowdoin College Alumni Fund, said Bowdoin is one of the top 11 schools in the country for alumni participation. The council is seeking ways to strengthen its ties with alumni. Curtin in particular mentioned those graduates who embody Joseph McKeen’s promise of the common good and work for public interest organizations, NGOs and nonprofits. “Just give us $25!” he exclaimed. “Just tell us you love us!”
Ultimately, though, the message the seniors received was not about paychecks or pressure. Douglas Bates ’66, a former financial advisor living in Phippsburg, Maine, advised, “There are a lot of creative people around here to take advantage of. You’re young. Go for it!”
Photos and story by Margot Howard ’13