We are lucky to have such active and generous alumni, who donate their time and energy to give our students the best TFAS experience. Alumni are our biggest asset and continue to show how important the TFAS programs are by giving back to the organization. With our largest alumni population focused here in D.C., we have an incredible resource bank of alumni who attend events and interact with students throughout the TFAS programs.
These alumni are determined to help students, just as other alumni helped them when they were TFAS students. They always have great advice and are happy to share their professional expertise and personal prowess with others, especially young leaders who are just getting started in their career. Each year we hear from students that one of their favorite parts of their TFAS experience was meeting accomplished TFAS alumni and hearing how they got their start in their career and in Washington.
A big way that alumni contribute throughout the year is by volunteering to be a mentor, alumni roundtable speaker and/or panelist. So far this year, we have had outstanding alumni participation in our Capital Semester program. The students have been soaking up the advice and knowledge that alumni have imparted upon them. Check out the details below about how our alumni have volunteered this semester.
The TFAS Mentor Program is a crucial aspect of the TFAS summer program in Washington and has been an important component of the TFAS experience since 2004. Students have the opportunity to participate in the mentor program, in which they are paired with professionals based on a variety of criteria, including: profession, hometown, university, etc. A vast majority of those professionals are TFAS alumni who offer students career advice, D.C. insider tips, general advice and more. Each semester and summer, TFAS hosts a Meet Your Mentor Breakfast to kick off the program.
On Jan. 14, Capital Semester students met with their mentors at the first Meet Your Mentor Breakfast of 2015. Students and mentors met at TFAS Headquarters to make a plan for the semester.
Several alumni were in attendance at the breakfast including: Brianna Cole (IEIA 12), Morgan Eackles (IBGA 10), Alex Marriott (IBGA 07), Kayla Nicholson (CS 12) and Damian Wingate (ICPES 04).
Another way TFAS alumni give back is by speaking with students about particular issues or by offering career advice in a more formal setting. Throughout the year, alumni volunteer to speak about many topics, ranging from resume and interviewing tips to the role of state and local government to personal finance. Students love to hear how TFAS alumni jumpstarted their careers and what they gained through participating in the TFAS program.
On Feb. 6, Capital Semester students heard from three TFAS alumni about professional networking and overall career advice. Jonathan Lozier (IBGA 08), Andrew Powaleny (IPJ 08) and Jean Schindler (AIPE 06) spoke to Capital Semester students imparting them with nuggets of wisdom about networking, resume structure and overall professionalism.
Lozier advised “At a networking event you don’t want to attach yourself to just one person. Hop around and shake hands.” Powaleny told the students that “no matter who you are working with, treat everyone with kindness, dignity and respect.” Schindler summed it up for the students, “We want you to have connections and community not just careers.”
Want to participate in an alumni panel this semester? Email Matt Phister (ICPES 13), Capital Semester associate, at mphister@TFAS.org.
During each program, we host alumni roundtables for each institute, bringing together 10-12 alumni to have dinner with current TFAS students and speak about their TFAS experience, past and present professional experience and general D.C. advice. This is yet another great opportunity for students to interact with alumni in a more relaxed setting to ask questions, network and engage. Students often say that the alumni roundtable is one of their favorite events during their TFAS experience.
On Feb. 24, we held the Capital Semester Alumni Roundtable at TFAS Headquarters, where eight TFAS alumnae spoke to students. Each alumna was seated at a different table, but got the opportunity to introduce herself to the entire room, offer career advice and mention her areas of expertise so students could ask questions.
Emily Taylor (CSS 12) told students to always work hard because “the most important job that you have is the one you have right now.” Chelsea Barnett (ICPES 09) similarly said, “You shouldn’t take your current position for granted. Use it for all it is worth, because there is value in what you are doing currently.”
Students also learned the importance of a pristine cover letter and resume, importance of handwritten thank you notes and importance of taking advantage of every opportunity presented to them while they are here in Washington, D.C.
The alumnae who attended include: Chelsea Barnett (ICPES 09), Amanda DeGroff (IPJ 10), Lauren Dickinson (IPJ 11), Colby Hochmuth (CSF 12), Besa Rizvanolli (AIPES 08, CSS 09), Emily Taylor (CSS 12), Aubree Weaver (IPJ 11) and Rachel Wein (CSS 11, IIPES 11).