It’s 5pm on Wednesday and I’m weaving through the work rush, the cold Chicago air already seeping into the atmosphere like a winter window left open in a warm room. I can feel it coming, and it’s just a matter of time before it’s cold out for six (seven? eight?) long months. North Carolina, these are the days when I miss your 80 degree sandy beaches the most. But no matter.
In a city of people that do not know me, there is a group that always will. The warmth of the bar awaits as I slip through double doors and remove my coat, looking for that familiar blue balloon and a small group of cheerful, engaging women who I haven’t met, but have known for years.
Welcome to the Wellesley Sisterhood.
Although I graduated from the women’s college a few years ago, the longer I am apart from Wellesley the more I truly appreciate and identify with it. When I attend a Wellesley alum event, I am warmed by the intellectual stimulation, the nurturing atmosphere and the wide-eyed excitement of proactive, involved women who support and embrace one another in their challenges and their accomplishments. When I attend a Wellesley event, I am immediately surrounded by a roomful of mentors, role models, and friends. In terms of taking the bull of life by its horns, Wellesley alums are true believers.
This isn’t about to become an advertisement for Wellesley College, though it is a first-hand account of the power of alumni networking. Connecting with an alum allows you to take a step back and reflect on your life, your achievements, your difficulties. For many, university feels like a new beginning, and on a certain intellectual level these women have all been born in one place. It is only natural, then, that we help each other along what can often be life’s difficult path.
In all the competitiveness of college, the alum groups that I have experienced are incredibly open and helpful. If you live in proximity to an alum group of your own, no matter how new you may be to the area, you already belong somewhere. This is extremely beneficial for any human being, but especially for newbies. Nothing is more comforting than knowing that you’re not alone, and that someone has your back–in your job hunt, in your studies, or at least in terms of cracking a joke over a drink or two.
The past few meetings I have come to network and get some moral support over the bad economy while I continue my hunt for a career. But this meeting is different. Today I have found a job, and as I break through the doors and spot the blue-ballooned table, my eyes light up. In front of me is a group of women, two of whom I know and the rest I have never met before.
When I tell them I’m employed, my Wellesley family erupts in cheers.
For more information about how to meet similarly minded friends, visit the alumni services department of your high school or college website. And if you don’t have one nearby, come to mine.