UIS Students connect with alumni and practice networking at Meet and Eat event

Students mingled with alumni and developed connections at a “Meet and Eat Student and Alumni Networking” event on Oct. 1. During the evening, students and alumni introduced themselves through table networking activities and heard from several speakers.

    Angela Evans, assistant director of the Career Development Center, said they planned for about 50-100 students and 12-15 alumni for the event.

      In the past, the center usually hosted a formal etiquette dinner, but a lot of other organizations also planned those. Because of this, Evans said they tried to “mix it up” and have a more open networking event.

    At past events, students were able to secure jobs and internships through making connections and networking. “I think across the board, you get students at different levels of academic progress and anxiety and know-how with their careers,” Evans said. “I would say we have a wide representation across the board.”

    Chuck Schrage, associate vice chancellor of alumni relations, said events like these give current students a chance to work on their “soft skills,” such as networking, and how to introduce themselves in a business-like setting.

      “In terms of making connections, many times those initial connections may initially be made through email or social media, but when it comes time to interview, whether that interview takes place face-to-face or via Skype, for example, it’s very important to be able to show those soft skills,” he said.

    Alumni Paris Ervin, who graduated with a master’s in public administration and an undergraduate degree in communications, said the event was a great opportunity to meet students and share her real-life experiences with.

     “It gave me the opportunity to connect with them, share my experiences, good and bad, and talk about what I was able to do with my degree,” she said.

     Evans currently works as the communications director for State Treasurer Mike Frerichs’ office.

     Before that, she was the spokesperson for several state agencies and a TV personality with the local ABC affiliate.

      Her advice to students is to get out of their comfort zones.

       “If I had not taken a chance, I would not be where I am today,” she said.