The weeks that stretch between the spring and fall semesters at the Tepper School of Business can seem like a season of isolation for many students who spend the break away from the familiar home base of campus. Internships in faraway cities can swallow up the summer months, and for those entering Tepper School as newcomers in the fall, the anticipation of what lies ahead can make the long, hazy days even longer. Fortunately, thanks to the generosity of Tepper Alumni, the school’s summer welcome receptions held throughout the country offer an oasis of networking and support to bridge the gap.
“It was a wonderful way to kick off the summer, and I felt like I had never left Tepper,” said Brigid Johnson, a current Tepper student and intern with Amazon.
Welcome receptions provide the opportunity for both the newest and most seasoned Tepper students and alumni to blend and discover (or rediscover) the large network of colleagues to which they are connected. Newly admitted students receive an introduction to a supportive group of peers and mentors, first- and second-year students—or, “alumni-in-training”—are able to provide guidance to those less experienced, and alumni are able to provide an even broader perspective to those in the early stages of their careers. Alumni are often pleasantly surprised to discover how many of their fellow Tepper School graduates are living within the same area, sometimes within mere blocks of each other.
Held throughout June and July, these short but valuable evening-long gatherings are hosted by alumni, allowing them to contribute in a more personal way to their alma mater.
“Students are able to feel a strong connection to the Tepper community in an alum’s home,” said John Sengenberger, Executive Director of Alumni Relations at Tepper, who launched the first welcome reception in Manhattan 11 years ago. “They are not just joining an organization; they are joining a family and becoming part of a lifelong network.”
Over the years, Tepper welcome receptions have spread to cities across the country including Boston, Silicon Valley, Chicago, Philadelphia, New York, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington, DC, Charlotte, Detroit, Dallas, Westport, CT, and Princeton, NJ, and have even made the leap overseas to Hong Kong, Bangalore and London. Locations are chosen for their proximity to major relevant markets and to companies where Tepper students are completing internships.
Johnson said that “attending the welcome reception made me feel very lucky to have an internship in Seattle. It was great to hear about the city and the extension of the Tepper community in Seattle from Marc Onetto (MSIA ’75), Retired Senior Vice President Operations at Amazon.com. His speech made me feel very fortunate to be part of this group.”
Both Onetto and Brian Olsavsky (MSIA '89), CFO, WW Consumer Business, Amazon.com and Tepper Alumni Board member co-sponsored the 2013 Seattle reception.
The intermingling of people from all stages of their careers is, indeed, a unique facet of the welcome receptions, with everyone having different perspectives to offer while still sharing the common thread of a Tepper School education. The event provides a rare opportunity to interact with a widely varied group in the expanse of one evening, enabling attendees to make connections that could have otherwise taken years to establish.
“The thing that really struck me was seeing the interaction among all the constituent groups,” said Marc Merlin (MSIA ’90), a welcome reception host currently with Deloitte Services LP in Philadelphia. “There were older alumni like myself sharing some of our experiences, younger alumni who could perhaps relate more closely to what students are dealing with on campus, current students who could talk about what it is like ‘in the trenches,’ and newly admitted students who are excited and want to hear justification for choosing Tepper to pursue their graduate education. It was really terrific to see the interaction across all these groups.”
Merlin points out that even established alumni are able to expand their circle of personal and professional connections; the receptions create a relaxed, informal environment in which attendees can feel comfortable striking up conversations and sharing stories. And indeed, as an alum and welcome reception host, he was able to witness the true spirit of these events: “Seeing everyone having a good time, engaged in animated conversation, talking about all that is great about Tepper, and seeing the exchange of business cards at the end of the evening, knowing that some longer term connections have been made.”