We Are Family
The power of Pitt connections
Tears well up in the eyes of Pitt senior Lauren Feintuch. Pride and sadness stir her thoughts. She’s among more than 30 undergraduates gathered in the Cathedral of Learning to mark sweet endings and bright beginnings. She knows some of those in the room from her early days on campus; others are new faces. But all of the students belong to the Blue and Gold Society, a group of undergraduate leaders selected to work with the Pitt Alumni Association as a way to advance the University’s goals around campus—among students, prospective students, alumni, and visitors.
Today’s ceremony, hosted by Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg in his first-floor office, celebrates the accomplishments of the society’s graduating members and the arrival of its new inductees. Feintuch, a marketing major in the College of Business Administration, has been part of the Blue and Gold Society since her sophomore year. This get-together serves as her last day as an active member. She feels as though she’s leaving family.
Her emotions are buoyed, though, when Eva Tansky Blum approaches. A University trustee and alumni association board member and past president, Blum has been involved with the Blue and Gold Society for years, nearly since the society’s inception in 1991. She has been encouraging and supporting Feintuch, a soon-to-be graduate, throughout the job-search process—something she does for other students, too. As it happens, Blum is also senior vice president and director of community affairs at PNC Bank’s headquarters.
Feintuch has good news to share: She has accepted a position as a business banker at PNC Bank. Blum’s face lights up, and she wraps the student in a warm hug. “Welcome to the family,” she says.
The student calls her experience with the Blue and Gold Society “the best thing I did both socially and professionally while I was at Pitt.” In particular, she credits the wealth of connections she made with Pitt alums. In fact, the society is a microcosm of the larger networking opportunities offered to students by the alumni association. For students looking to land a job or simply needing friendly guidance, the association offers events ranging from on-campus networking socials to Pitt alumni club gatherings across the country to multischool events like the Big East Career Fair.
The alumni association in partnership with career services also provides the Pitt Career Network, an online directory of alumni volunteers who share career information and advice.
All of these efforts are intended to help Pitt students take advantage of the association’s greatest resource: alumni connections. Often, it’s the Pitt connection that can help graduates stand out in the crowd. “In some ways, I feel the world has become more difficult, more competitive than it used to be,” says Blum (LAW ’73, CAS ’70). “There are so many accomplished people. And corporations are looking for people who can really make a difference. So how can you distinguish yourself? It certainly helps to have a connection with an alum.”
Michael A. Neuman (CAS ’90), president of Amplify Sports and Entertainment in New York City, says he had a list of 20 alumni contacts when he graduated from Pitt. “The only reason they met with me was our joint affiliation with and passion for the University of Pittsburgh,” he says. Since then, he has connected major clients like Labatt Blue beer and McDonald’s with sports teams like the Detroit Tigers and New York Jets. He also fields numerous calls and e-mails from soon-to-be graduates asking for information and guidance on careers in sports marketing.
Neuman gives the example of a Pitt graduate moving to New York City as a prime scenario where the alumni association network comes in handy: “Maybe you’re far away from the support system of your friends and family. Maybe you don’t know where to start. To have, for example, the New York Pitt Alumni Club here to help you, to have people who are established in business invite you to their offices to talk about career aspirations, give insight into résumé development—that’s an invaluable tool for students.”
The benefits don’t stop with any one alum, Blum notes. The network extends much farther, an ever-branching tree of connections that spans a wealth of industries and expertise. Blum, for instance, has helped students pursuing careers in fields other than banking find the connections they need. “You meet a lot of people along the way,” she says. “You never know who somebody knows.”
Feintuch, the former Blue and Gold Society member, now works for PNC in New Jersey. She and Blum have stayed in touch. The senior VP tries to be available for encouragement or to talk through something. “I’m interested in following her career,” Blum says.
For Feintuch, who graduated in spring 2006, that day in the Chancellor’s office was emotional, for sure. But the hug and welcoming words from Blum showed her she wasn’t losing a family at all—her connections were simply expanding. —Bo Schwerin
The Talk of the University
No doubt the place to be the Thursday evening of Homecoming was the Pathway to Professions Career Networking Event. More than 450 alumni and students mixed and mingled in Alumni Hall’s Connolly Ballroom. Bryant Salter (CAS ’71) of Business Diplomacy Consulting, who traveled for the occasion from Miami to Pittsburgh, shared his experience with numerous students, including MBA student Ai-Chia Wang. Recent grad and computer science major John Pome (A&S ’06) had a chance to talk to Carnegie Mellon Principal Software Engineer Joe Imbimbo (SLIS ’91G). Fran Gargotta (CGS ’79), an advertising and human resources executive, shared her expertise with Maria Sholtis, a sophomore interested in writing and psychology, and Joelle Ambrose, a senior majoring in marketing and psychology. Ron Hornak (KGSB ’70, ENGR ’67) and Perry Jones (CGS ’79) were seen talking to bioengineering major Rebecca Mayton. Senior A.J. Kielinski and political science major Jason Lim learned about life in the nation’s capital from John Martin (A&S ’04), congressional aide and Blue and Gold Society veteran. Senior communications major Brynnly Mazzie was seen in conversation with Michelle Repasky (CAS ’01) of QoL Meds and Greg Shannon, an accounting and finance major. Pitt Band alum Tony Roscoe (LAW ’06, SHRS ’99), a data management specialist, confabbed with information management major Hilary Maskiewicz and health information management major Lori Gaertner. Other alumni who were on hand included Richard Maurer (FAS ’70) of the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab and David Silkroski (ENGR ’71) with Boeing in Seattle. Peter Zubritzky (EDUC ’91G, ’79G), a private-practice psychologist, said he loved the reception and had a great time. Miss this year’s networking reception? Volunteer for the Pitt Alumni Network. You can choose how often you’d like to be contacted by students and other alumni who are curious about your profession. Go to www.alumni.pitt.edu and follow the link to the Pitt Career Network.
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