|Lin Koenig (left) and Pat Mullane share a common background in career services and a desire to accelerate the college's plans to help alumni.
Career coach Lin Petersen Koenig ’73 is living proof of the power of networking. Though her experience is not the usual result of attending the Networking Day, hosted each February by the Alumni Council, Koenig wound up with a job at ... Dickinson.
That day three years ago, Koenig, a veteran career consultant, met Pat Mullane, executive director of career services and assistant vice president for college relations and enrollment management. Koenig, mother of John ’00 and wife of Rick ’71, talked with Mullane about beefing up what the college could offer its graduates. Eighteen months later, she found herself heading up a new effort to serve alumni.
“It’s a terrific service that the college offers its alumni—not just with me in job placement but in facilitating connections between alums,” she says. “A few colleges have always provided a service, and the ones that did, like Williams and Princeton, had a club atmosphere.
“Dickinson is on the leading edge,” she adds. “I was at Villanova this spring at a summit for people involved in alumni career services. There were around 80 people attending, with most starting from scratch. I learned we were one step ahead of the others, and have been getting calls from other colleges ever since. It’s unusual to have a person dedicated to the position.”
Koenig, a half-time employee, works from her Philadelphia-area home. “I admit to working in my sneakers,” she says with a laugh. “But I do wear Dickinson logo clothes.” Via telephone and e-mail, she dispenses career advice, mainly in selecting or confirming career choices, resumé writing, the job-search process and networking.
She also hosts virtual seminars on a variety of career topics and plans, this summer, to introduce 10 to 15 different podcasts—audio programs in digital format delivered over the Internet to subscribers. Alumni will be able to log on to the career center’s Web site at any time and listen to, for instance, a 10-minute talk on salary negotiations.
Or they can download a podcast “and listen whenever they want on their iPods,” she says. “It’s important to provide different channels to information and access, depending upon the population.”
Alums from ages 24 to 75 have put their trust in Koenig’s career advice. “Over the course of a career, people have four to five careers and nine to 10 jobs. People shift a lot, and there is more switching now than in the past. People need help along the way” and different kinds of help, depending on their life stages.
About a third of the alumni she assists are 2000-2005 graduates. “Young alums are in transition,” she explains. “They may be bartending or working in an extension of their student days—ServiceCorps or an internship. They may be moving from San Francisco to Boston and need to figure out what to do. I may help them write their resumés or make a contact.
“The next third are graduates of the ’90s,” she continues. “They’re a mixed bag, ranging from women who have stepped away and come back after having a child, or who took a convenient job and now are in a position to make a more serious career change. They, perhaps, were downsized or are unhappy with what they are doing. They may have just graduated from a grad program or law school, and their graduate school may not offer a quality career service, so they ask, ‘What can Dickinson do for me?’ ”
According to Koenig, the next 15 percent are ’80s grads who are “career changers, for the most part. They may be in a high-pressure job, for example, the practice of law, and want to work for a company that does ‘something good’ in the world. When you’re changing careers you’re trying to convince someone that you can do something different. Networking is key to career changers.”
The rest of her clients are mostly from the ’70s, with a few ’60s grads, too. “Some are ‘retiring’ from the military, government service or teaching,” she says. “Some know what they want to do, and others don’t.”
This winter, Koenig will begin visiting Dickinson Clubs to present career topics of broad interest, such as salary-negotiation skills and how to deal with office politics.
Dickinson Clubs, which allow alumni living in a particular area to get together, offer excellent face-to-face networking opportunities. But Koenig also urges job hunters and career explorers to tap into the online Dickinson Works, where more than 1,400 alumni have provided their contact information so that others may seek their career advice. To use the service one need only be registered in the online alumni directory and enrolled in Dickinson Works.
“They should be networking throughout the process,” she says. “Ask ‘Is my salary offer reasonable?’ Some [job seekers] have improved an offer by 20 percent by speaking to fellow alums.”
But, as Mullane points out, Dickinson Works is not just for career advice. “If you are moving to a new area, you can talk to someone about schools for your children, or if you are getting ready to retire, you can talk with someone in that area. It’s all about reciprocation—Dickinsonians taking care of other Dickinsonians.”
While Dickinson Works has been operating for several years, DickinsonConnect is a new one-stop resource for connecting alumni with employers interested in Dickinson students and graduates. Mullane and Koenig are excited about offering yet another “alumni entry point,” both for those seeking jobs and those seeking employees.
Subscribers are encouraged to set up profiles to keep their job-hunting activities organized. They also can post resumés to be viewed by employers using the service. The Job Agent function allows users to specify types of jobs and locations sought and to receive e-mails whenever employers list new jobs that matches their criteria.
“We want DickinsonConnect to be the first place to go to look for jobs and for employers to post jobs,” Koenig says.
The service is “free of charge, and we do everything that is in our career center mission statement: help students and alumni make career decisions, teach them the skills to make those decisions a reality and connect them with opportunities,” explains Mullane. “We ask alumni to be committed to us for a lifetime. This is another way for the college to show its commitment to them for a lifetime.”
To explore Dickinson Works, DickinsonConnect and other services, go to http://dickinson.edu/career/alumni/assist.html. To schedule a telephone consultation with Lin Koenig, call the career center at
(717) 245-1740 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.