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Finding Opportunities

The Spring 2020 issue features a profile of the new LSA dean, Anne Curzan, who shares her aspirations for the recently opened LSA Opportunity Hub. In this column, LSA’s Paula Wishart tells how alumni can share their learnings with a new generation.
By Paula Wishart

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Finding Opportunities
Paula Wishart meets with students in the new LSA Opportunity Hub. (Photo by Eric Bronson/Michigan Photography)
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Exploration is a key part of the LSA student journey. What distinguishes studying the liberal arts from professional schools is the breadth and scope of what students are learning, with more than 85 majors and 100 minors across 75 academic departments.

With the new LSA Opportunity Hub, which is LSA’s career exploration center, students extend their exploration beyond the classroom to learn how their studies and experiences can translate into meaningful careers. This is where the incredibly global network of LSA alumni plays a pivotal role. They are at the fulcrum of the student exploration journey and can provide answers to the most important questions: How can students discover all the career possibilities out there? Where can they get firsthand knowledge about the working world? How do they break into a specific industry or learn how to make connections with professionals outside their orbit? Most importantly, how do they find and secure real career opportunities?

To provide meaningful engagement opportunities with LSA alumni, the Hub is launching a mentorship platform—LSA Connect—in the fall that will help facilitate these types of career conversations.

Elizabeth Pariano, director of U.S. alumni and employer engagement at the Hub, says it best. “LSA Connect is an online community where alumni and students can have authentic mentoring experiences. The beauty of it is that LSA alumni have unique career journeys to share, ones that aren’t so linear, as some students are prone to think. Our alumni have pivoted into varied industries, subject areas, and interests, and the revelation about the adaptive nature of a liberal arts degree is so important for LSA students to understand.”

Students aren’t the only ones who benefit from this career support. Alumni have expressed their desire to be engaged and active members of the U-M and LSA communities, with access to more than 18,000 students. In other words, they have access to more than 18,000 young, emerging professionals who have a broad range of interests, technical skills, and professional competencies. An effective way to connect with this talented group is by providing internship experiences that are powerful vehicles for student exploration.

So how can LSA alumni get involved with the Hub? There are different ways to support student exploration, from participating in industry-specific events to offering an internship to mentoring students. The first step is to stay closely connected to the Hub, which is the connective tissue between alumni and students. “We want to be very intentional about how to connect students with alums, and we’ve learned that developing close bonds with our alums and getting to know them on a deeper level is the key to doing this,” says Elizabeth.

Alumni who want to connect can visit umichlsa-csm.symplicity.com to create an account, and the Alumni Engagement team will be in touch to explore ways of making meaningful connections with students.

Paula Wishart
Director of the LSA Opportunity Hub and Assistant Dean of Student Development and Career Initiatives

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