By Hadley Montgomery
Over the course of 13 years, Sewanee students have participated in Beyond the Gates: Preparing for Life and Work after Sewanee. This year, on January 13 and 14, the event hosted 46 alumni and parents to “teach, coach, and mentor 76 students–all juniors and seniors,” according to Kim Heitzenrater of Career and Leadership Development.
The program began with Networking 101, a chance for students to learn about the first steps to an introduction when meeting people. Students then met for a business dining etiquette class, an opportunity to learn appropriate table manners. Once the initial parts of a meeting were discussed, a networking break provided a perfect time to use newly found networking skills with parents and alumni.
After the networking break, participants had the choice of attending an Interview Skills panel about how to prepare questions, effectively communicate, and all of the must-knows about an interview. If students did not attend the interview skills panel, they were able to go to the “Graduate School: From Application to Assistantships Plus the Work in Between” panel. This provided students with the opportunity to learn about a future outside of immediately entering the workforce.
The dinner on Friday evening was hosted at the Sewanee Inn. The guests attending had the honor of hearing from Mercedes Abramo (C’92) and her challenges when pursuing a career. Abramo is the first American to become the president and CEO of Cartier North America. “She inspired listeners to embrace challenges and uncertainty and encouraged students to have confidence in the lessons learned at Sewanee as they prepare for their future careers,” according to Heitzenrater.
The second day held more workshops on the cost of living outside of college, careers in banking, careers in counseling, careers in higher education, and many more. Armonte Butler (C’17) said, “Beyond the Gates was an amazing experience where I was able to network with new Sewanee alumni in attendance, in addition to some alumni that returned, that work in law, public service, and consulting.”
One of the sessions on day two entailed a talk by Saer Brown (C’16), Will Downey (C’16), Davante Jennings (C’16), and Katie Riddle (C’16). They spoke on “What Happens in the First Years Beyond the Gates?” The talk entailed job searches, transitional challenges, and obstacles one could encounter once leaving Sewanee.
Katie Riddle “was so honored to be invited to Beyond the Gates this year. I learned a lot while listening to the panels from a different perspective, especially the panel about succeeding in your first job, since I am still trying to do just that!” Although Beyond the Gates is for current students, the great level of expertise provided other Sewanee graduates a learning opportunity as well.
“It’s comforting to know that we have such an awesome alumni network who willingly dedicate their time to help and guide us. For me, it was a really informative weekend and I’m thankful to our Career and Leadership office for putting the event together. I highly recommend it to incoming juniors and, especially, seniors,” said Ena Aguilar (C’17). Many students on campus felt the same sentiments about the program. Thanks to Career and Leadership Development for organizing such an incredible event for students to gain confidence and knowledge about their future outside of Sewanee.