For most of the time Phil Jeneary ’07 was at Central, Meet the Pros wasn’t yet a reality. But it would have been the kind of event this account associate at LS2group, a government and public affairs firm, would have loved to attend.
Instead, he returned in November, as a professional who works in government, this event’s theme. “This is a way I could give back, in a sense, to Central,” Jeneary says. Students asked about his involvement in presidential campaigns, what the campaign lifestyle was like and how to get involved in the field. “Overall, the students had really insightful questions, and I feel I opened some of their eyes to how the real world is and what employers expect.”
The Career Center began Meet the Pros five years ago and hosts 2-3 events a year, inviting alumni from specific fields to campus to talk about their jobs and network with students. On Nov. 13, nearly 30 alumni who graduated from 1978 to 2011 participated.
The most illustrious alumna in attendance was Bernadette Allen ’78, former U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Niger, who spent 30 years in the U.S. diplomatic service. She was a favorite of the students, too, who picked her brain on how to get involved in Foreign Service.
Scott Peasley ’95, a special agent with the Division of Criminal Investigation in Iowa, advised students to take advantage of what they already have—the solid written and verbal communication skills Central excels at teaching. Sharing the impact of the Central experience in the classroom, abroad and in extracurricular activities with a prospective employer can land students a job, says Peasley. “Central’s liberal arts education with opportunities to study abroad can make graduates stand out when applying.”
Sophomore Isabelle Hicks came to Meet the Pros because she has no idea what she wants to do after graduation. She ended up talking to Ronnie Cyrus-Jackson ’02, a budget analyst at the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. “She told me to strive to make the work I do fun and that if I don’t like what I choose to do at first, not to feel pressure to stay,” says Hicks. “I learned that as a young professional, you have time to switch jobs and look for opportunities that
Everyone in Graham Hall that autumn day had one thing in common: a shared Central experience. That connection was enough for the alumni to see something of themselves in the students—and to see a future for them, too. “Connections are one of the most important things to accomplish while in college,” says sophomore Allison Zuel, “because they help students go farther than they ever imagined.”