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Coffee with Colonials program attracts more than 50 students in first six months

Hatchet File Photo by Alexander Welling | Assistant Photo Editor
The University’s Division of Development and Alumni Relations office on F Street.

Six months after officials launched a program to connect students with alumni, graduates said the events have helped students learn to network and gain career advice.

Coffee with Colonials, a program sponsored by the Division of Development and Alumni Relations that debuted in March, brings students and alumni volunteers together through informal meetings over coffee to share career advice. Matt Lindsay, the assistant vice president of marketing and communications in the Division of Development and Alumni Relations, said the program has provided participants with opportunities to start building a professional network.

“Some of these connections will bear fruit immediately through internships, jobs or new connections,” Lindsay said in an email. “Some will need more cultivation to produce more tangible benefit.”

Lindsay said more than 50 students and 12 alumni participated in the program last spring. He added that the office hosted three Coffee with Colonials events outside of the District – in Denver, Los Angeles and New York City – during school breaks.

Lindsay said officials have identified nearly 20 alumni who have signed up to participate in the program this semester, and officials “look forward” to the program’s continued growth.

He declined to say if any changes have been made to the program this semester.

Alumni who participated in the program said the events allowed them to share advice with students and bond over their experiences at GW.

Brian Herman, a trial attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice who graduated from the GW Law School in 2013, said two students attended his Coffee with Colonials event at a Panera Bread near Lafayette Park. He said the program allowed students to learn about “real-world paths,” from school to the workforce.

Herman added that the program provided him with an opportunity to help out the next generation of students, after he received help from those who graduated before him.

“When I graduated from GW, someone at the school was able to open a door that helped me in my career, and he encouraged me to help other Colonials down the road when the opportunity arose,” Herman said. “I’ve always kept that in mind and looked for ways to give help like I’ve received.”

He said the event’s “small and informal” structure allowed students and alumni to have better conversations. Herman said officials could improve the sessions by providing alumni with more information about the students instead of only their names before the meetings begin.

“I think it might be helpful or at least put things on an even playing field for the conversation if alumni are provided with some of the application materials to get to know the students a little in advance,” Herman said.

Caroline Adegun, who has worked at multiple nonprofits and graduated from the Graduate School of Education and Human Development in 2016, said three students attended her Coffee with Colonials event. One received a job offer after Adegun helped with interview preparation after the event, and all three received free headshots from her, she said.

Adegun, who also received her bachelor’s degree from the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences in 2012 and worked full time for six years in the University’s human resources office, added that she participated in the event because she is “very attached” to GW and wanted to connect with current students.

“GW has such a family-oriented culture, and I think it’s always important that when we move up, we come back down to pull others up with us,” Adegun said.

Adegun is the owner of the nonprofit I AM LOVED Ministry, which aims to help individuals experiencing homelessness find permanent housing, and she works with The Hollywood Wingwoman, which focuses on social and career services for those with social anxiety or social awkwardness.

“I’m very big on empowerment, so I know for college graduates, job seeking can be very emotional and very challenging,” she said. “I’m really big on just helping individuals build their confidence and knowing their worth and bringing that presence into their interview process.”

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