Would you rather sit through an informational interview in an office or in a restaurant while enjoying a nice meal? If the latter, American University’s Dinner with Alumni events are for you! Throughout the year, the Alumni Association invites students to connect and engage with AU alumni representing a broad range of industries over a complementary dinner.
Last semester, I had the good fortune to attend two dinners. The first dinner I attended was back in November, hosted by David Teslicko, SIS/BA ’09, WCL/JD ’12. He currently works as a litigation associate at an international law firm in Washington, DC. International Law was my favorite class in college, so this opportunity was too great to pass up. Although I personally have no interest in going to law school, I wanted to learn more about David’s experience working in such an interesting field. An hour before the dinner, it struck me that I might be in over my head attending a dinner with a legal expert and students who were likely to proficiently insert legal jargon into table talk. I dusted off my old international law textbook and started desperately studying old cases and concepts in hopes that I would be able to “hang.” I feel so silly looking back on how frantic I felt before that first dinner. It turned out to be anything but intimidating—rather, it served as a laid back way to learn more about a specific career field with other students like me.
Two days later, I was presented with the chance to attend another dinner and immediately jumped at the opportunity. Jonathan Day, SPA/BA ’94, Jordan Haverly, SPA/BA ’09, Michael Pasko, SPA/BA ’08, and Caleb Smith SPA/BA ’09, hosted their dinner at the historic Capitol Hill Club. Michael is the director of federal government affairs for a trade association and Jonathan, Jordan, and Caleb all currently serve as communications directors and policy advisors for members of Congress. The hosts painted a very candid picture of what working in a government office entails. I was amazed by their eagerness to learn more about us and help us figure out which roles we would be best suited for in their line of work. Once they had a better understanding of our personal goals, they enthusiastically offered to help us network wherever they could. My interest in working on the Hill increased ten-fold after learning more about the variety of roles available. Beyond the great conversation with the hosts, it was equally worthwhile to get to know the other dinner attendees.
The Dinner with Alumni events exhibit how strong AU’s alumni network is and how impressive the individuals who make it up are. The fact that these hosts are so willing to take the time out of their busy schedules—and pay for the meals—shows how dedicated they are to helping AU students realize and carve their own paths.
After two very positive experiences, it is my hope that others will sign up for future networking dinners (and not to be deterred from attending ones that are not within their immediate area of interest or realm of expertise).