Saint Mary’s Dine With Alums Goes Virtual

Photo from Dine With Alums 2019

Saint Mary’s students had the opportunity to rub shoulders, virtually, with College alumni at the annual Dine With Alums event, sponsored by the Alumni Engagement Office. In person networking was replaced by Zoom, and conversations were held in industry-specific breakout rooms.

More than 70 students were digitally transported from room to room to network with approximately 30 alumni representing various industries—from accounting to law, media, technology, healthcare, education, performing arts, and more. Matthew Zhang ’21, a business analytics major/computer science minor, welcomed the opportunity to talk with Saint Mary’s alumni, hoping to connect with professionals to obtain advice on working in the tech industry. “I really like developing video games and apps. I’m also involved with an apprenticeship program called Gameheads. We develop games that tell stories about people from different backgrounds,” said Zhang. “Technology is what I want to do as my career.”

Giles Miller ’84, who serves as director of Development for the Catholic Diocese of Oakland provided Zhang with some sage advice. “One thing I tell people when they are looking for job advice, is to start with the environment you want to work in, that you’re passionate about, and things will start to fall into place.” Zhang is already heeding Miller’s suggestion.

A common thread of advice by the alumni was for students to identify their passion, which will help them make better and happier choices. Crystal Riggins ’05, an attorney with GIVE TV said, “I want to echo that leading with your passion is key. You never really know where life is going to take you, but as long as you’re open to the possibilities and allow yourself to pivot, it’s easier to be excited about what the future may hold.”

One of the many highlights of the evening was the keynote address by Jamila Buckner ’88, chief people officer with the Opportunity Fund. “It's important to me as an alum to return and reach back to help students that are looking at ways to transition once they've  graduated,” said Buckner. “Students should also reach out to as many people as possible, even if they’re not sure what they want to do. It's important to explore industries early so they can keep possibilities in mind as they’re taking classes, volunteering, or looking at internships. It's a great way to learn about different careers without a lot of pressure.”