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Student Perspectives: Connecting with Alumni in the Virtual World

Madelyn Moy shares more about her experience at the Fourth Annual Weinberg College Virtual Career Summit.

This is our first Student Perspectives post by Madelyn Moy '22 (Biology, Anthropology, and Integrated Science).


The day before classes started, I attended my second Weinberg College Career Summit.

However, this would be the first one I attended virtually. As a result, although I had enjoyed my experience the year before, I was initially apprehensive of what a virtual experience would be like, and had doubts about how successful the event would be. Could I still learn useful information about future careers I was interested in? Would I still be able to have meaningful interactions with alumni? Did I really want to sit on Zoom for almost four hours the day before fall quarter began, especially when Zoom fatigue was already setting in? While career development and networking can already be uncomfortable or stress-inducing, the virtual format added another level of uncertainty and complexity. 

When the time finally came for the event to start, I remember hoping for the best, maintaining a positive attitude, and trying to keep an open mind.

The event began with Samir Mayekar’s keynote address, which focused on the evolution of his career trajectory through multiple industries. As a lifelong Chicagoan, hearing about his current role in Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office and how he got to that position, was particularly insightful and interesting. Next up were the industry clusters, which for me were Research and Healthcare. Unlike the previous year when I was still very much in the early stages of exploring different careers, I knew much more about my career interests going into this Summit, and had done more research before the event so I could ask pertinent questions about each industry. Although it was certainly different in the virtual format, I found I was still able to learn a lot of good information about each industry, and the chat function made it easy to ask questions. 

However, it was the networking session at the end that surprisingly turned out to be my favorite part of the event, where groups of students were matched with one or two alumni in breakout rooms to ask questions.

As someone who can find it difficult to walk up to people at traditional networking events, I found I was much more comfortable over Zoom to speak with alumni and discuss their experiences. Additionally, because multiple students were in each breakout room, it was great to hear alumni answer questions from my fellow peers, as they often asked questions I did not even think of. By the time the event ended, the four hours had come and gone much faster than I anticipated, and my worries and doubts leading up to the event turned out to be unfounded. 

All in all, although the Summit still had its fair share of Zoom technical glitches, I had a very enjoyable experience, and learned a lot about how the Northwestern experience prepares you for a career in the real-world.

My biggest takeaways included not only learning more about my specific industries, such as the different topics and settings research can be conducted in, but also gaining more confidence reaching out to alumni both during the Summit and afterwards via email or Linkedin.
Because the Summit is made up of Northwestern alumni, all the panelists and speakers are eager to share pieces of wisdom they have accumulated over the years with current students, so it is much less intimidating to follow up or reach out on your own. 

I would like to thank all the Northwestern alumni who participated this year for taking the time out of their schedules to share their stories. I would encourage any alumni who may be interested in speaking with students to reach out to Cassie Petoskey, Director of the Waldron Student-Alumni Connections Program, to learn how you can potentially join next year’s event! 

Stay Connected

Whether you are a student or an alumnus, contact Cassie Petoskey, Director of the Waldron Student-Alumni Connections Program, at if you have any questions.
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