By Dave Cannon, ‘10

The chatter in Tyler Haynes Commons grew louder as 100 students and alumni looked over the agenda for the day. There was talk of summer internships, job opportunities and career plans. The Helping Hands program was in full swing.

The program, a joint effort between the Office of Multicultural Affairs and the Career Development Center, allowed Richmond students to connect with alumni and local community members who work in their career paths of interest.

"I participated in the event last year, and I learned a lot," said Rose Ann Gutierrez, a junior majoring in sociology who is pursuing a career in the nonprofit sector. "My interests have shifted since then, so I'm back to do some more networking."

To kick off the event, participants heard from a panel of six alumni representing a span of more than 40 Richmond class years. Students received tips about how to make the most of their time at the University and were given the opportunity to ask questions.

"I thought the panel was a wonderful opportunity for students to get feedback," said Tina Cade, director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs. "Their questions led to worthwhile discussions about important career and life-related issues."

In the afternoon, students dispersed throughout the building to speak individually with their assigned mentors, who were able to provide unique perspectives and give personalized career advice.

"I wanted to learn about the post-college lifestyle and work environment," said accounting major Elizabeth Applin, '12. "Speaking one-on-one with a professional in the field was a great way to learn about the working world.”

Shanelle Bobb, a sophomore majoring in political science, was paired with Kimberly Holmes, ’07, who worked closely with Cade to help plan last year's event.

"Once you graduate, it's important to stay focused on your career path," said Holmes, who is currently working toward a master's degree in higher education at the University of Maryland. "I really enjoy talking to students and helping them find their paths."

At the end of the event, students took with them not only career advice, but also some words of wisdom from their mentors.

"Do what you're passionate about," said Rasheeda Perry, '03. "That's where you will find the greatest success.”