When students go to college, they often have some inkling of what career they’re interested in. However, that career path may morph and change over time as students learn more about their desired jobs—a process that relies on that student learning more crucial information about different career paths.

That was the case for Emma Herman ’18, who used her school’s Alumni Mentorship Platform, CareerConnect, to help narrow down her list of potential careers. Emma is an upcoming senior at Principia College studying computer science, a field that opens doors to a number of careers.

However, at first, Emma wasn’t entirely sure which career path she wanted to follow. After hearing about CareerConnect from Principia’s Academic and Career Advising office, Emma set up five consultations with different mentors to get a more realistic understanding of what various career paths entailed.

“I joined [CareerConnect] not really knowing what I wanted to do, but having somewhat of a direction,” Emma said. “So it was nice on those first couple of calls to talk to people about their careers in the field I thought I wanted to go into, and get a better sense of what they might look like.”

After just a month or two of touching base with mentors, Emma began to really home in on her desired career path—one in cybersecurity law. She began to focus her efforts on figuring out the best law schools to apply to, and on how to best tailor her law school applications.

One of her consultations was with Steve DeWindt ’77, who received a BA in Business Administration at Principia before pursuing his MBA at UCLA. Steve was especially appreciative that Emma was looking not just for job searching tips, but for general career advice as well. 

“How nice to have somebody totally outside your own experience,” Steve said, especially when mentees connect with mentors who “can offer you just, ‘here’s what I’ve seen in my career…’, or ‘in the marketplace at the moment…'”

In fact, Steve wishes he’d had this platform when he was a student and picking a career. “It would have been helpful to talk to alums who were in different industries I was thinking about,” Steve said. “I didn’t have a clue, nor any way of reaching out at that point…It would have been nice to have people to talk to about that.” 

The connections that students and alumni can make through resources such as CareerConnect are special and powerful, Steve explained. “The connections that people make are very deep, and they can be done so quickly because there is such a shared heritage there,” he said.

With the help of CareerConnect, Emma now has a better sense of what different occupations entail, giving her more realistic expectations about her career interests.

“No matter where I go, I can find support and advice,” Emma said.