Imagine, if you will, a scene of eager daters making their way from barstool to barstool in a game of singles’ musical chairs with the hope of finding the man or woman of their dreams. Now switch out those stools for desks, replace the singles with job applicants, and you’ve got Penn Alumni Career Networking’s newest endeavor: speed networking.
On March 12, PACN, a division of Alumni Relations, hosted its first speed-networking event in Houston Hall’s Hall of Flags, targeting local alumni in the pharmaceutical, healthcare, and life-sciences industries. More than 100 alums, whose post-graduation experience ranged from five years to 30, turned out.
The organizers had asked participants to complete a survey beforehand to customize their preferences—noting, for example, the professional background of individuals they would like (or not like) to meet. Upon arrival, each alum received a personalized dance card of sorts, indicating with whom and in what order they were to tango. With only six minutes per partner, participants needed their best dancing shoes.
According to Lisa Vaccarelli C’02, director of Alumni Education and Career Networking, the high-speed format “allows participants to meet a good number of individuals with similar professional backgrounds and interests within a short period of time.” One participant, she recalls, mentioned that the time limits “ensured that you didn’t get stuck talking to someone for too long when there wasn’t a connection—but when there was, the individuals had the option of reconnecting after the event ended.”
While regional clubs and affinity groups have long been providing opportunities for informal networking around the country, this represents Alumni Relations’ first foray into formal career networking.
Organizer and participant Joan Lau EAS’92 WG’08 said she was glad to see that the forum was “accessible and productive,” and expressed hope that it “helped everyone get better at networking in other non-structured environments.”
Vaccarelli is currently collaborating with PennNYC to plan a speed-networking event for alumni in the New York area in the late spring or early summer. Over the next few months the department will explore the possibility of taking the program to other U.S. cities. Meanwhile, the Penn Club of Philadelphia would like to host a similar event geared towards a different industry.
Information and updates about future programs will be available on the PACN website, where alumni can also access the Penn Alumni Career Network, a searchable online database.
—Emily Kohlhas C’09
Profiles : Events : Notes : Obituaries
Mock-mutineer—and real-astronaut—Garrett Reisman EAS’90 W’90
Penn Alumni launches “speed networking” events
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Charter-schools CEO Eva Moskowitz C’86
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