By Page Forrest
Things generally considered less than enjoyable: networking, pantyhose, getting up at 7:00 a.m., and incessant reminders that some day we have to leave Sewanee and find a job. Despite this, eighty-five juniors and seniors chose to return to Sewanee two days early to participate in Beyond the Gates, a weekend hosted by the office of Career and Leadership Development designed to connect students with alumni and help upperclassmen prepare for the looming specter of graduation.
Created in 2005, Beyond the Gates is an unique program offered by Sewanee, made possible by the dedication of Sewanee alumni and parents. This year, fifty-three alumni and parents assisted with the event, a record-breaking number. Guests served as mentors to students in addition to leading panels and discussions such as “Business Dining Etiquette,” “Interview Skills,” and “How To Succeed In Your First Job.”
Fortunately for those about to enter the work force, the news was mostly positive. Mack Brothers (C’88), a panelist on the “Get to Work!” discussion and the Vice President of Industry Services & Consulting, discussed with the audience hiring trends and where the jobs will be when the upperclassmen graduate. According to Brothers, employment is booming, and Generation Y will be filling the void of the largest generation in existence that is currently retiring. Almost every industry in the Southeast will be hiring, as well as the tech and medical industries in the Northeast and the West. Construction, Real Estate, Employment Services, and Manufacturing will all see growth in the next several years as well.
Bentley Cook (C’11) had mildly terrifying but incredibly insightful advice on how to best approach job interviews. He emphasized the importance of being prepared for questions and being able to distinguish oneself from the herd. “It’s kind of like speed dating, except for marriage, which is scary,” Cook said of finding suitable employees.
During the weekend, students were able to meet with individually assigned mentors in addition to attending panels and networking sessions. The guidance from many of the mentors provided an opportunity for students to focus on finding their individual paths. “Beyond the Gates made the impending thought of being unemployed a lot less terrifying. The alumni and parents who participated provided a lot of useful insight on how to network and find job opportunities that don’t necessarily align with the degree you obtain at Sewanee,” remarks Victoria Miglets (C’17).
The continued success of Beyond the Gates largely depends on the continued assistance of alumni and Sewanee parents. In a few years time, that will be this year’s participants. Alumni who participated this year ranged from graduates from the class of 2015 to the class of 1967. Looking towards 2017, students are already gearing up for next year’s event. Jack Kennamer (C’18) says, “I can’t wait to have the opportunity to attend next year, and speak with alumni who have gone on to professions in the legal field. All of my friends who went this year had an amazing experience.” Registration for 2017’s Beyond the Gates will begin in November, and all members of the classes of 2017 and 2018 are encouraged to participate.