By the time you’ve reached your junior year, you’ve picked a major, finally gotten used to the food in the dining hall, and have likely figured out how to avoid the dreaded 8 a.m. lecture. But one giant question remains a mystery: What will you do after graduation? Although I am a Creative Writing major looking to pursue a career in publishing, I’m still unclear on exactly how I will get there. But I was determined to find out. So there I was, at 6 p.m. on a Tuesday night, making my way inside the Commons Great Room for the fourth annual Mentor/Mentee match-up event.
I walked in, already intimidated by the array of tables swathed in fancy white tablecloths. On top of each sat a smattering of pens, a pile of official-looking paper ballots, and large cardboard nametags noting the degree and professional background of each of the Arcadia University alumni who would be seated there shortly. For two years I had been searching for a way to connect with alumni in my desired career field and finally it looked like I had found my answer.
As I gathered with my fellow students over to the side of the Great Room for the introductory spiel given by Helene Klein, one of the organizers and the head of the Honors Program, I learned that this wasn’t going to be any ordinary night of networking. Instead, I have ventured into a speed-networking event. We would get 10 minutes at each table to chat up the alumni mentors. At the end of the evening, students would vote for the mentors who best matched them and mentors would do the same with students. Then Klein and her team would tally the results.
I felt the flush of anxiety wash over my face. Finding a mentor was hard enough and I most definitely wasn’t an expert speed dater. A million worst-case scenarios flashed through my mind. What if I run out of things to say? What if they run out of things to say?
Wait…what was my major again?
Run! I thought. But instead of booking it back to the safety of my dorm room to get lost in an hour of Netflix (which, to be honest, was an extremely tempting option), I took a deep breath and sat down at the first available table.
Two women with welcoming smiles greeted me. Hiding my hands under the thick white tablecloth so they wouldn’t see me anxiously twisting my rings around my fingers, I introduced myself and asked eagerly for them to tell me about themselves. The ice was broken. I found myself relaxing into the natural flow of the conversation as we started to really talk about what we were hoping to get out of the program.
In fact, the timekeeper actually cut our conversation short with the announcement that it was time for the students to move to a new table. I couldn’t believe it; 10 minutes had gone by! Fueled now with adrenaline and excited to learn whom I would meet next, I said my good-byes to the two mentors and thanked them for their time.
Then I got up from my seat and scoped out the rest of the room. I had a lot of tables left to visit before the big vote.