The UMass Amherst Student Alumni Association collaborated with the UMass Amherst Alumni Association to host this year’s Dining with the Stars, an event designed to build and strengthen relationships and encourage dialogue between students and alumni.  The evening was filled with business card exchanges, knowledge sharing, alumni reminiscing about their time on campus and students being in the company of other proud Minutemen who have left campus and gone on to pursue amazing careers.  A diverse group of alumni from the classes of 2001 through 2013 and various schools and colleges were represented on the guest roster.  Over 70 students had an opportunity to network with recent graduates who work in the public sector and for a range of organizations including the National Basketball Association, CVS Health, the UMass Memorial Medical Center and ISO New England. 

The theme for this year’s dinner was Life after UMass:  The Transition from Campus to Career.  Students posed questions related to what happens immediately following graduation including relocating for a job, applying for and attending graduate school, interview preparation and creating holistic social circles in one’s new environment.  “The evening provided a unique opportunity for students to interact with young alumni who have had impressive post-UMass careers,” President of the Student Alumni Association and computer systems engineering major Brian Hickey ’15 recalls.  “UMass produces strong contributors to society and it was proven in more ways that night.”  There were even numerous impromptu resume reviews as students brought them in to receive personal feedback from the alumni guests.

The evening included a three-course meal and facilitated roundtable discussions.  Each of the alumni guests were stationed at their own table and students rotated from table to table between courses enabling them to network with a variety of alumni in this comfortable setting.

Students came prepared to practice essential competencies needed for today’s workforce.  For political science major and Commonwealth Honors College student Camille Liederman ’17, the event was an opportunity for her to hone networking skills.  “One of the alums gave me his contact information and stressed the importance of follow-through,” says Liederman.  “I am not going to be one of those people who does not follow up because professionals think carefully and strategically before sharing their contact info.”

Victoria Liu ’15, a hospitality and tourism management and finance major, walked away from the event with advice on how to leverage her knowledge and student experiences for her job search.  “I used to think that my work experience was extensive but not specific to what I wanted to do,” says Liu.  “The alumni guests whom I spoke with told me how all of my past experiences are related and can help me get the job that I really want.”

Takeaways were equally valuable for the alumni guests as well.  “At Dining with the Stars, I had the opportunity to interact with a great group of students across a wide variety of academic disciplines who have different career ambitions than those that I’m used to working with,” says Sean Quinn ’04, ’13 MBA, assistant director for business and ticket operations for UMass Athletics.  “This experience just reinforced my belief that UMass has many talented and ambitious students who will be future leaders in a wide variety of industries.”

David Boutilier ’01, vice president and executive producer for Anzovin Studio, Inc., an animation production company, spoke of his experience:  “Getting a chance to come back to campus and engage with current students is always enlightening.  Not only do I get a chance to share with them my perspective on life after UMass - my mistakes as well as my successes - they showed me how much things can change and how much they can stay the same.”

A special thanks to all of the alumni guests who attended this year’s Dining with the Stars; contributing their time to the evening and continuing to exhibit their UMass pride!

View photos from this year's Dining with the Stars.