In January 2020, instead of Boggs interviewing prospective Business Honors members, professional alumni were paired with current Business Honors students in interviewing applicants to the program. The experience that was just as much about gaining professional interview experience as it was about admission to the program.
During the event that January, 18 professionals, many Oregon alumni, and even Business Honors program alumni answered questions about building networking skills as well as the benefits of the Honors Program at the college. Volunteers then provided feedback that influenced the students’ professional growth.
“Honors is about academic excellence, and it highly values leadership and professional development,” Boggs said.
“This process provided a new way for current students to connect with alumni, for alumni and professionals to connect with each other, and for the college to provide a forum for Honors interviewees to get answers to their questions from current students and professional Ducks who had experience with the program,” he said.
Meghan Hogue, a junior in Business Honors, appreciated the opportunity to pose questions to professionals.
“I learned a lot about interview skills, what employers are truly looking for, what questions to ask—or not to ask—and how to prepare effectively,” she said. “They also helped relieve my fears about not having an internship due to COVID and made great points about ways to differentiate myself without that internship on my resume.”
Along with new insights, in some cases students gained a new connection.
In one example, Brian Feeney, senior director at Palo Alto Networks and student Dylan Gold continued their conversation and over the summer developed a mentor/mentee relationship.
Feeney also participated in this fall’s Zoom session, when Boggs reconvened alumni to offer words of encouragement and advice to students.
“As an Honors grad from 2001, I know all about disruption,” Feeney said. “9/11 and associated economic turmoil changed the job market. This time shaped me as this era will shape current students. Something that has made me more resilient is giving back to others, and this allowed me to be of service to students by sharing my experiences and offering a little guidance.”
Sophomore Business Honors student Jordan Combs described the networking session as “extremely interesting and helpful.”
“I loved talking to alumni because I always have questions about their life post-college and what they would do if they could go back,” he said. “Especially with Rebecca because she literally took the path I want to take in regard to my professional career working with Intel and Microsoft.”
Boggs plans to make the professional, alumni-student interviews an ongoing event at the college, with the next session in January 2021.
“For the students, the professional development and lessons learned from our alumni and professional network are a clear win, and the volunteers appreciate hearing from our students,” he said.
—AnneMarie Knepper-Sjoblom ’05, Lundquist College Communications