As a 3rd year Legal Studies and Business student when I began my co-op term in Alumni Relations, I was often asked “Why Alumni Relations?”
My first personally impactful encounter with alumni in general was in a Practical Business Skills course I took in winter term 2014. My professor at the time had organized for a panel of alumni professionals from “Ask Arts Alumni” to speak to us about their careers and answer questions about their field of work. At this point, as a Legal Studies student, I knew I wanted to be a lawyer, but I was having trouble getting a realistic perspective on the lifestyle and day-to-day experience of a lawyer aside from what is commonly shown on shows like Suits. I found this panel to be one of the most rewarding experiences of my University career because of the genuine advice these alumni had to give based on their experiences. And the time commitment and passion shown by alumni to help guide us in our career choices sparked my interest to know more about the ways in which alumni make an impact on the University. So 4 months later, there I was in the center of it all.
Working as an Alumni Outreach Assistant in Alumni Relations has given me a unique experience and new insight into the huge impact that Waterloo alumni have on the growth and development of this University as well as the steps the University takes to engage them. There are so many ways that alumni give back, from mentoring current students, hiring co-op students and donating new buildings on campus. I don’t think I recognized just how important Alumni engagement was until this year. For example, have you ever thought about what interview season would be like for co-op students without the Tatham Centre? Before the Tatham Centre was built to centralize the interviewing process, co-op interviews were scattered in different buildings all across campus (and I thought co-op interviews were stressful now!) It was an alumnus named William Tatham who made the generous donation that makes the lives of co-op and regular students so much easier today.
So when asked how I became interested in working in the office for Alumni Relations, my answer was simple: I think that Waterloo – the school and the students – would be a little less amazing without the extensive engagement of our alumni. I can proudly say that I got to be a part of that on my co-op term while learning new skills that will definitely help me as a professional. And when my time comes to cross the stage at convocation, I can gladly say that it will not be my last encounter with Waterloo.