career fair

Let’s Keep the Momentum Going

Career outcomes for Lehigh students have always been extraordinary. How can alumni augment the career support that undergraduates receive?

I’ve been listening to my colleague Lori Kennedy, senior director of the Center for Career and Professional Development (CCPD), talk about “career outcomes” since before I even came to Lehigh (she’s well known in higher ed). The outcomes have always been extraordinary, and the First Destination Report for the Class of 2022 was no exception: 95% of our new undergraduate alumni are employed, continuing education or pursuing military or volunteer service. Their average starting salary is $75,000. (For the statisticynics among you: 91% of the class reported, so the sample size is indeed reliable.)

Recently, a Wall Street Journal/College Pulse survey ranked Lehigh the 14th best college in America, based on—you guessed it—an outcomes-focused methodology. This new ranking emphasizes “how much a college improves its students’ chances of graduating on time and how much it boosts the salaries they earn after graduation.” Fantastic, right?! The next questions one might ask: What are the inputs that result in such astounding outcomes, and how can alumni support those inputs?

I don’t have space here to shout out all the career and professional development guidance our students can access—visit careercenter.lehigh.edu—but I can share a few thoughts about how the Lehigh community can augment the support and keep this momentum going. A couple weeks ago, CCPD held the first in-person career expo since the pandemic in 2020, attracting 139 companies, 1,630 students and 65 recruiters who came back to represent their company as proud alumni! Does your company do college recruiting? Talk to your HR department and let us know. And while you're at it, how about hosting an internship or a job-shadow opportunity?

In addition, consider mentoring a current student. Lehigh Connects is a networking platform with nearly 11,000 students and alumni. Most interest is around “flash mentoring,” one-time, one-on-one conversations. There’s no cost to participate: https://alumni.lehigh.edu/lehigh-connects

We know parents play a critical role in student success. I’m happy to announce that we just promoted Melissa Ciment to become Lehigh’s first director for parents engagement! We have engaged parents for a long time, most notably through sendoffs, Commencement celebrations and a helpful Facebook group that’s been expertly moderated by dedicated, passionate staff members Lindsay Lebresco and Susan Szilagyi. Melissa will bring parents deeper into the conversations around student outcomes and career success. Are you a parent of a college student here or anywhere else who does it well? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Finally, one of the most solid lines from alumni to the Future Makers strategic plan reads like this: “Lehigh will provide learning opportunities for alumni and for others who are seeking to gain new skills and credentials and advance in their profession and life.” Stay tuned for more on this initiative and how it’ll open up more professional doors for alumni, parents and friends. I hope to see you in person or online soon!

Yours in Brown & White,
Jennifer Cunningham
Associate Vice President for Alumni Relations

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