All It Takes is a Handshake

On a warm, clear evening in October, Upper Marshall Hall was buzzing, filled with more than 200 Logger alumni and current students swapping stories and talking shop.

The 32nd Annual Alumni Sharing Knowledge Night, known to most Loggers as “ASK Night,” was in full swing. The event welcomed alumni back to campus to connect with current students and chat about possible career paths, internships, classes, grad schools, volunteering opportunities, and virtually every other experience that can help shape both a student’s college career and their professional one.

This night nearly 75 alumni perched at bistro tables scattered throughout the room, ready to share the wisdom of their experience with a new generation of Loggers. Students from all classes and majors were encouraged to attend the event, and were met by an eclectic mix of entrepreneurs, teachers, physicians, recruiters, counselors, researchers, scientists, consultants, occupational and physical therapists, engineers, programmers, designers, and many, many more. “What I wish I’d known when I was you,” was a common theme that ran through many overheard conversations. Another? “How do I get where you are?”

“I like that ASK Night is centered around alumni who are familiar with the experience of Puget Sound, and who in some cases shared similar difficulties in finding jobs as I have,” says Presley Reed III ’18, a communication studies major. “I got a lot of good feedback on how to go into an interview and the expectations that I should have while looking for my first several jobs once I graduate.”

For the uninitiated ASK Night can feel a little like speed dating: Everyone’s a little nervous, and the potential for something great to happen is palpable. For alumni it’s an opportunity to help fellow Loggers prepare for life beyond Puget Sound, and a chance to give back that costs little more than an evening’s time. For students it’s a valuable lesson in networking and an invaluable advantage in planning for their futures, not to mention an excellent place to practice their handshakes.

I love sharing my experiences with students and answering their questions. This year students asked some probing questions on [how] we facilitate change. Very impressive."

– Marc Blackburn ’85 (pictured)

It is always such a pleasure to talk with current students and answer their questions. The students this year were incredibly professional, prepared, and asked great questions."

– Amy VanZandt ’06, M.Ed.'11

There were moments when students were very honest about their career decisions, really interested in gathering data and perspectives on how to make big, life-directing decisions."

– Tom Moore ’84

I remember being a student. I had no clue what I needed to do to prepare for the workforce. ASK Night is the perfect way to share different experiences and career options with students."

– Meghann Edwards ’07 (pictured)

One student asked me if I felt Puget Sound had prepared me for the "real" world. I explained that I am able to speak publicly and write professional emails, and I know when I need to ask for help, all because of Puget Sound."

– Amanda Lemelin ’17

Sarah Stall
Published Dec. 6, 2017
Photos by Ross Mulhausen