Shortly before the new semester began, junior and senior Sewanee students arrived in Gailor Hall to sign in for the annual Beyond the Gates weekend. The University-held event, hosted by Sewanee’s Career Services, is an intensive weekend available to upperclassmen students designed to help strengthen interview skills, revise resumes, network with alumni, and learn about graduate schools.
The event took place over the weekend, lasting both days from breakfast through dinner. The annual career-driven event welcomed back more than 40 Sewanee alumni who were eager to give advice to more than 100 students in attendance. During the weekend, alumni helped students by looking over their resumes, participating in panels, networking with students interested in their fields, and conducting mock interviews.
The alumni took time off from their work schedules to give back to the Sewanee community and network with current undergraduate students, and students were encouraged to maintain the relationships they had developed over the weekend.
The keynote speaker of the weekend was Sewanee alumnus Emily Ochsenschlager (C’03), a successful producer and editor for National Public Radio’s Morning Edition. She has reported on various issues in the Middle East, spent time as producer and editor for NPR’s Tell Me More, and was part of the team that began NPR’s Up First.
Other recent graduates included Ellie Barton (C’16), Armonte Butler (C’17), Libby Malinowski (C’17), Dallas Synder (C’17), and Charles Warren (C’15), who spoke about challenges and discoveries specific to the first years after graduation.
Hannah Habit (C’19), an economics major and Spanish minor, said of her own experience, “I decided to attend because I knew past attendees who found the function incredibly beneficial for preparing them to find a job after graduation. Furthermore, I am a junior this year, and senior year and post-grad life are approaching a little too quickly, so I could use all the help I can get.”
She knew that networking would be difficult for her, and Habit was able to use Beyond the Gates as an opportunity to practice these skills. “Rather than looking at [networking] as walking into a room and feeling like I had to talk to 60 people that I have never met before, I simply set a personal goal: talking to five people that day. This allowed me to view networking as making five new friends.”
Habit added, “In addition to the great networking tips that I got at Beyond the Gates, I also had the chance to gain some in-depth insight into the profession that I would like to go into by talking with professionals in the field, as well as recruiters.”
The event featured presentations, lectures, panels, luncheons, and formal dinners. The experience covered everything from networking to graduate school applications, interviews, and table manners. Students had the opportunity to participate in mock interviews with alumni, where they received immediate feedback on their skills. Virginia Johnson, former associate vice president for Auxiliary Services at the University of Alabama and certified by the Emily Post institute for etiquette, delivered a presentation on proper dining etiquette, explaining everything from proper bread-buttering practices to thank you notes.