A Resolution You Can Keep

Like most of you, I see the New Year as a time of declaring broad-based resolutions to either save the world or the waistline. Well even though we are only 4 weeks into 2006 I noticed my waistline has yet to decrease and sadly, I have yet to clean out my closet for items to donate to those less fortunate.

It seems that this general time period lends itself to these types of “promises” we make to others or ourselves. How foolish it is that we feel the need to wait until now to start (or procrastinate) doing rather important things we should have been doing all along.

Having said all of that, I figured I would jump on the resolution bandwagon and propose a “new semester resolution” to all students as well as alumni. Think of this as your opportunity to redeem yourselves if you are like me and have faulted on your New Year’s resolution.

As for what this resolution entails, it simply asks that students realize your current surroundings and alumni, think back to your days at Colgate. Take a good look at your normal week or day (or Colgate experience). What do you enjoy about it? Be honest- your list can be as complex or as simple as you would like.

Take a few moments and jot down the top five things that come to mind. I guarantee at least three of them will be related somehow to Colgate. Not catch all “mom and Apple Pie” things that connect to Colgate as some sort of faceless entity, but real, tangible and specific things that you clearly enjoy and have benefited from. Things that help “make” your day, things, put quite bluntly, you are only able to experience due to the kindness and willingness of those who have come before you.

Whether it is grabbing a snack at the Coop, sitting in a chair in your classroom, or even enjoying an appropriate late night activity, chances are without the kindness and dedication of members of the Colgate community you never would have experienced these moments that are indeed shaping not just “your best four years,” but most likely your life.

Realize that you are in a special place. Realize that there are many, many ways to receive help from not just alumni, but also your current classmates. Whether it is getting advice about course selection, job or internship placement, resum?e consultations, or information about relocating to a new city there are literally thousands of alumni and students waiting and willing to help. For instance I just advised a new alum in Washington DC about the best happy hours in town.

Now is not too late to realize and seize upon your unique opportunity to harness the power that is your Colgate Alumni Network. Very few colleges and universities can claim such an energetic, loyal and well-connected group of alumni. I have witnessed entire work offices filled with Colgate alumni. I have seen alumni network with each other, making new contacts simply to help a current student or fellow alum. I have seen alumni welcome students and other alums into their homes and cities without a blink of an eye.

It is an unfortunate waste and missed opportunity if you don’t turn to your alumni for help and guidance. After all, most likely we have been in your shoes; we have been down your road. We have all made mistakes and have a few stories to share. Please permit us to help show you the way.

I was lucky enough to be part of Real World ’06 where over 100 Alumni gave freely of their time to come back to Colgate (on their own nickel) and simply start dialogues and networks with the great class of 2006. As a matter of comparison, a friend of mine who went to a very large state university participated in a similar program. Despite having close to 10,000 alumni living within 1 hour of campus they could not get more than 35 alumni to participate in their Real World.

These 100 alumni came from as far away as Washington State, California and even other countries simply to be there for you – the students. We, the alumni, see ourselves in your shoes (and clearly are envious that you still have time as a student at Colgate). We would like to try and make your experiences a little better, your stress a little less, your confidence a bit higher. Please don’t characterize this as another parent giving you unsolicited advice, but rather a big brother or sister looking out for our own.

Despite having all the tools in place to assist students in a wide variety of topics there is one essential and critical piece missing. That simply is you! Despite the talents and intentions of the alumni we are not mind readers. We don’t automatically know who needs help and what help they need. This will take some initiative on your part. Swallow your pride and head to Career Services, one of the bigger jewels in the Colgate crown.

Talk to the amazing staff, start to find out what alumni are in fields or cities that you would like to learn more about. To get you started, anyone who is interested in General Management Consulting or the Washington DC metropolitan area feel free to shoot me an e-mail at: [email protected]

Have the confidence in yourself and contact the alums. Start a conversation. I believe you will find not just amazing advice but some pretty interesting stories as well. Inquire how alumni who are pursuing something that interests you got to this point in their careers and/or lives. You will never know what advice, connections and, dare I even say, friendships may be missed by not sending off an e-mail or picking up the phone.

Of course this message of reaching out to alumni is not just for the seniors. I believe (and know first hand) that all members of the Colgate community from pre-fresh to alumni can be helped by reaching out and just exploring what the Colgate Alumni Network has to offer.

Reach across the table, extend your arm to your alumni and I promise you, it will be greeted by an experienced and dedicated hand. Most likely the alumni are in a position to help because at one time they were the ones who had the courage and foresight to reach across that table.

The writer is a member of the Alumni Corporation Board of Directors and president of the Colgate Alumni Club of Washington, D.C.