Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

1634 Society Helps Students Network, Seek Opportunities

When students think of Georgetown alumni, they often focus on the Bill Clintons and the Bradley Coopers. But the 1634 Society, a new student group descended from the university’s Office of Advancement and the Senior Class Fund, tries to introduce students to networking and reaching beyond the Hilltop during their time on campus.

The society, which held its first meeting last Friday after months of planning, hopes to involve students in all the career-building opportunities that Georgetown’s alumni network offers – before they become alumni themselves.

“If you’re in the habit of getting involved with these things as a student, when you’re already on campus once you graduate, it’s going to be second nature,” said 1634 Society Co-Chair Kirsten Hardy (SFS ’11), who also serves as co-chair of the Class of 2011 Fund.

The group had its genesis in the Office of Advancement, which handles alumni relations and fundraising. The office, along with partners like the Georgetown University Alumni Association and the Career Education Center, has long focused on connecting students with alumni. Their goals include helping students enter professional networks, enabling alumni to reconnect with their university and eventually tapping into the community for donations.

But despite years of networking events and programs like the Discovery Initiative, which hires around 50 students a year to interview alumni for the Office of Advancement, many in the office still want to reach more students earlier in their time at Georgetown.

Quinn Portfolio (COL ’11), co-chair of both the 1634 Society and the 2011 Fund along with Hardy, highlighted the disconnect she often sees between students and the resources meant to serve them. She cited the Career Education Center’s upcoming fall career fair.

“I would guess that maybe 20 percent of the [senior] class knows about [the fair],” she said. She added, “I feel like most of my friends say, `I don’t know how to find a job, I don’t know how to network,’ but in reality it’s all there.”

The 1634 Society’s mission is to spread that knowledge. “[We’ll have] fun events that we get people to come to and enjoy themselves. But at the same time, our main focus is basically to convey what Georgetown has to offer,” Portfolio said.

Still, the group isn’t ignoring the possible financial benefits to the university. For participating students, Hardy said membership in the 1634 Society will be a reward for donating to the university – in any amount – although the Society will focus on promoting pre-existing events already open to all students.

The two functions of the organizations are inseparable, according to Sacha Ostern (SFS ’07), assistant director of advancement who was closely involved in the creation of the Society.

“Yes, philanthropy is important. Fundraising keeps our lights on, and even has an impact on our rankings,” he said. “But philanthropy and fundraising are the products of successful engagement.”

That commitment to engaging students with the serious side of Georgetown community extends to the leadership of the 1634 Society. “I don’t think you’ll find a group in the country that’s like this, and if you did, it’s not run by students,” said Ben Jarrett, assistant director of advancement and a close adviser to Hardy and Portfolio. “I think it says a lot about Georgetown that they trust students to run something that’s so important.”

Portfolio highlighted the benefits of student leadership. “[Students] know what kind of events they would want to go to, what things are important to them, what services they want to be available to them. Who better to know that than the students?”

The group’s two August email announcements about leadership posts saw a strong response. Fifteen seniors and 38 students from other classes have joined.

“The number of people that we’ve had respond to our application and be generally really excited about what we’re doing has been a huge accomplishment,” Hardy said.

And maybe that excitement, channeled through the 1634 Society, will actually help alleviate a perennial student worry.

“It’s an unfortunate reality,” Jarrett said. “You’re a senior, you have to come back [from summer], and all of sudden, it’s like, `Oh, my god, I need a job.’ It kind of hits you all at once . And I think that if you were a first year student and came to Georgetown, and got involved in this … you’re already three years ahead of where you were.”

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