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Students gain professional opportunities from new Career Network for Oles

By Mara Kumagai Fink '11
March 12, 2010

As hundreds of seniors prepare to enter a less-than-ideal job market this spring, the Center for Experiential Learning (CEL), in conjunction with President David R. Anderson ’74 and the Office of Alumni and Parent Relations, is attempting to help soften the blow.

By connecting students with the parent and alumni network, the program hopes to help students establish relationships to navigate the world after graduation. Volunteers could answer questions about their career fields, serve as sources for informational interviews, and provide possible connections for internships or jobs.

More than 400 students attended an informational meeting and submitted a short profile in early March, and now alumni and parents are signing up to become part of the seven-week program. The career network will send each alumnus or parent five profiles a week for them to scan and see if they might be able to help the student in any way. If they can help, they will contact the student and give him or her advice or referrals.

Lars Leafblad '99, a veteran executive search professional, was quick to jump on board the program. "Oles help Oles and I want to try and 'pay forward' the support that so many have generously shared — and continue to share — with me," he says. "It’s time for Oles to let our collective lights shine even brighter so that we can better serve and support each other."

Kirsten Cahoon

This is a pilot program for St. Olaf, and is based off of a similar program that has had success across the river at Carleton College. Last year President Anderson asked alumni to post job and internship listings, but this program has wider goals.

“This is a broader initiative, and it’s more likely to create lasting and sustained relationships with deeper connections between the alumni base and junior and senior students,” says Senior Associate Director of Career Connections Kirsten Cahoon '98.

The CEL hopes to use information from evaluations at the end of the pilot to implement an extended program next year.

Parents and alumni can sign up for the program through March 15.

Contact David Gonnerman at 507-786-3315 or