By Ovetta Sampson
Years ago, when Maureen Meyer (BUS ’90) was an undergraduate at DePaul, she struggled with self-confidence. She wasn’t sure of herself and her abilities as a young person trying to make it in the world.
It’s that same feeling of uncertainty expressed by current business students that Meyer sought to alleviate during a dinner at DePaul’s Loop Campus last spring. The meal was part of the Dinners on DePaul program, which pairs successful alumni with university students eager to learn the realities of career, life and family balance from mentors like Meyer.
“I remember being in their shoes,” says Meyer, the former financial director at Baxter Credit Union, now retired. “I didn’t have a lot of confidence, and I needed a little extra encouragement. That’s what I tapped into when I spoke to students at the Dinner on DePaul event. I wanted to empower them.”
Organized by DePaul’s Office of Alumni Relations, Dinners on DePaul is a series of events where alumni gather to share a dinner with students on campus. The free meal is a bonus for students who get the opportunity to talk personally with professionals working in their chosen field of study. The dinners typically last about an hour.
Held in the winter and spring quarters, the dinners feature a diverse set of alumni spanning different disciplines. Two dinners with alumni from the Driehaus College of Business were held during the 2014-15 academic year. One focused on entrepreneurism and the other on the finance industry. Joining Meyer at the finance dinner in May were Rich Mackey (BUS ’87) executive vice president of strategic initiatives at Rosenthal Collins Group, and Terrence Mullen (MBA ’85), managing director of global research and strategy at Allstate Investments.
Organizers say the dinners are a great way for students to get one-on-one attention from mentors. The group is kept purposely cozy; at the finance dinner, there were three alumni and just eight students.
The setting allowed students to delve deeply into career issues not discussed in a textbook or classroom. At the finance dinner, alumni talked about ways to build relationships in the workplace, how to manage one’s career, how to pick the perfect entry-level job and other career-related issues. They also talked about what it was like to be a new professional in their chosen career.
Students said they could relate to alumni whose experiences as young professionals mirrored their own. “It was great to just listen,” said Gina Yost, an undergraduate studying finance and management at DePaul.
Find out more about Dinners on DePaul at alumni.depaul.edu.