Light & Verity

“I wish to be useful”

Students and alums network to further the public good.

Michael Sloan

Michael Sloan

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Lots of business cards were exchanged at New Haven’s Quinnipiack Club on the afternoon of Saturday, October 17. Hundreds of Yale students and alumni had descended on the old downtown social club for a lunch break. But it wasn’t really a break at all. It was another opportunity for networking, just as the morning had been and the afternoon would become.

There’s nothing new about Yalies networking in the business world, but this time the go-getters were looking to do good as much as to do well. The event, entitled “Being Useful: Careers in Education, Health, Public Service, and Social Entrepreneurship,” brought dozens of Yale alumni to New Haven to help students further their careers (or find hoped-for careers) in serving the public good.

The daylong event was the launch of an effort called Careers, Life, and Yale, which helps Yale students and alumni network in all kinds of career paths. The next installment of this program, planned for February, will focus on careers in the arts. “The plan is for us to hold three of these signature events each year,” says Rahul Prasad ’87PhD. “We want to cover quite a bit of the waterfront.” Prasad is one of the founders of Careers, Life, and Yale, which is jointly organized by the Association of Yale Alumni and the group known as STAY (Students and Alumni of Yale) and supported by the Yale Office of Career Strategy.

Keynote speaker Neal Keny-Guyer ’82MPPM, CEO of the nonprofit Mercy Corps, extolled the virtues of a career in public service. “I can already see the great things all of you will do to make our world better,” he told attendees. “All of us in this room have had or are having an incredibly powerful and privileged educational experience, and that opportunity comes with a special set of responsibilities.”

Later, Prasad echoed these sentiments. “In the charter of the university, it says we’re going to train young men in service of their country,” he told me. “Nathan Hale said, ‘I wish to be useful.’ Service has been engrained in the Yale DNA for as long as Yale has been around.”

After the keynote, participants broke into smaller groups for panel discussions. Leah Motzkin ’16, who served on the Careers, Life, and Yale planning committee, said she was impressed by the degree of alumni involvement. “From day one, I was blown away by how much the alumni care about connecting with students and helping students on their professional and personal journeys.”

“There’s an element of human storytelling when you bring alumni back to New Haven, because we’re all Yalies,” said Stephen Blum ’74, the AYA senior director of strategic initiatives and an organizer of the program. “The richness of that kind of story is so valuable.”

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