On Friday, April 10, 2015, SPIA hosted its first annual Networking Night. The event offered a unique opportunity for students to network with alumni, faculty and staff.

This event was the first of its kind hosted by the School, and it attracted over 200 students, faculty, staff and alumni. The Foundry Ballroom at the Graduate Hotel Athens was packed with undergraduate and graduate students, alumni working in a variety of fields, and faculty from all departments. The room was adorned with red and black balloons, hors d’oeuvres and a live band to set the tone for a fun networking event.

“Our wonderful young alumni made a strong showing and many potential mentoring relationships had their beginnings last Friday,” said Paul Welch, director of undergraduate services for SPIA. “Personally, I am thrilled at the student and alumni response to this new approach to building positive relationships between our current and former students.”
Alumni working for nonprofit organizations, private companies and all levels of government were there to offer career advice, and recruit for job and internship opportunities.

For SPIA alumnus Justin Shanken, Counterintelligence Special Agent for the U.S. Department of Defense, it was worth the drive from his office in Atlanta. “The venue was perfect, and the turnout was very impressive. Not only was I able to meet and speak to a large number of undergrads to discuss their interests in pursuing a career in intelligence, but I was also able to discuss my Agency’s internship opportunities. All the students had great questions and were there for serious conversations concerning their futures.”

In addition to the opportunity to speak to alumni, students also had a chance to connect with SPIA faculty outside of the classroom.

“I was pleasantly surprised to find that the event consisted not only of networking with former alumnae, but also with current SPIA students and faculty,” said Holly Boggs, a senior international affairs major from Douglasville, Georgia. “It was great expanding my network within SPIA as well as into the alumni base.”

Catherine Warren, a senior majoring in International Affairs and Anthropology, also enjoyed meeting other students and faculty members.  “On top of talking to alumni with degrees in international affairs, I was also able to share with other undergraduates my experience in the Washington Semester Program and talk to faculty I had never met. Because of Networking Night, I met a professor in my major, and we have a meeting set up next week to talk about my interests, future goals and what career paths are available to me after graduation.”

The event was created in response to a need for career-oriented events for the students in the School. As Welch noted, “Networking Night capped a successful year of career-readiness programming for students in SPIA and shows the School’s commitment to making all SPIA graduates ‘Arch Ready’.”