Keynote speaker Terry Babcock-Lumish
Nearly 60 alumni returned to Carnegie Mellon University's Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences to support 150 students and help them build their careers.
The second annual "Under Construction: Building Your Future" event encouraged students to explore the diverse fields available after graduation.
"The alumni are extremely inspirational," said Juan Acosta (DC'15), a student organizer. "The students are very excited that Dietrich College is actively pursing events like this to help them with their future career paths."
Alexandria Hernandez (DC'15) agreed.
"I think it's wonderful," she said. "Dietrich College is really expanding the network. It's a great chance to connect with alumni and learn about jobs we may want to pursue."
Career areas represented ranged from entrepreneurship and consulting to education and politics. Numerous alumni from each field were on hand to share personal stories and answer questions.
"There are many, many career paths and developing a plan can be a major challenge," Dietrich College Dean John Lehoczky told attendees.
"It's easy to learn the overall goals of a job but difficult to explain day-to-day life," said Max Goetchel (DC'16). "I think it's important to hear all the nice things about a job, but also learn about the daily realities. You can't ask those things in an interview."
In her keynote address, Terry Babcock-Lumish (DC'97), founder and president of Islay Consulting, relayed fond undergraduate memories and three key pieces of advice:
- "Semper 'Gumbie'" — always be flexible.
- "We start living more interesting lives when we define ourselves more as 'who we are' than 'what we do.'"
- "Regardless of where we are in our lives and careers, we're all under construction."
Babcock-Lumish said she would have enjoyed participating in an event such as "Under Construction" as a student.
"At CMU, we all map out our own paths," she said, using her own career twists as examples. "CMU taught me how to problem-solve, to be resourceful.… We can't plan for life; we have to be open."
Through lectures, panels and informal discussions, students engaged alumni from as far as Houston and San Francisco.
Kristin Gilmore (DC'02), a U.S. Department of State Foreign Service officer, flew in from her post in the Bahamas.
"I thought it was a phenomenal opportunity to share some experiences with students deciding what to do with their DC degrees," Gilmore said.
"It was great to hear that many alumni had an indirect way of getting to what they are really passionate about doing," Acosta said. "'Under Construction' made me proud to be a DC undergraduate — and had that effect on a lot of students."