Alumni Support Careers for Sustainable and Just Communities Networking Event
The second annual Careers for Sustainable and Just Communities Networking Event held this spring is another great example of WPI alumni supporting their alma mater in meaningful and impactful ways.
The program, which began with environmental and sustainability studies student Hannah George ’24 and Department of Integrative and Global Studies (DIGS) Associate Professor of Teaching Lisa Stoddard, gives students a dynamic in-person opportunity to learn about career paths WPI alumni and others have taken toward sustainable and just communities.
This year’s event, which was made possible in part by a philanthropic gift from Theodore Wallach ’18, was a tremendous success—hosting twice as many alumni as last year in support of almost 70 student attendees.
“The event showed me there are others - both students and professionals - that share my passion for sustainability and environmental justice. It also provided some much-needed insight into what is already being done in those fields, what needs remain to be met, and what an entry-level position might look like.” says environmental and sustainability studies and biology and biotechnology major Gavin Burkhardt ’24. He adds, “The WPI Career Development Center does a fantastic job with the career fairs. However, these events don’t always permit attendees to have intimate, connection-forming conversations about engaging topics. The Sustainable Careers Mentoring and Networking Event provides just such an opportunity, with a broad range of topics such that there is something of interest for everyone.”
The range of alumni and industry represented at the event was quite impressive, including, but not limited to Martin Wolf ’71 of Seventh Generation, Inc., Emily Molstad ’19 of VALIS, Chase Gaudino ‘21 of Thermo Fisher Scientific, and Erin Spadavecchia ’05 of ASSA ABLOY. Conversations flowed energetically as students asked questions and heard real-world examples of the vital work being done to make the world a more sustainable and socially just place.
Environmental and sustainability studies and business major Hannah George ’24 found value in the event she played a key role in developing, saying, “Attending the event provided me with a sense of comfort. Witnessing the large turnout of both employers and students, all eager to connect over sustainability in the workforce served as a tangible reminder that there are indeed career opportunities available for students in my major. It also highlighted the presence of a supportive community at WPI, who are ready to lend a hand if I asked.”
“Students were excited, and we had some who attended the event both years, and now as seniors, they asked if they could come back next year as alumni employers. We said yes, of course!” says Professor Stoddard.