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Access2Alumni Works for ARHU Students

Blair and KelseyAccess2Alumni: The ARHU Advantage

Looking to gain some insight into the job market for ARHU grads? Perhaps make a few contacts? Or even land your dream internship or job?

Then be sure that Access2Alumni is at the top of your to-do list.

Kelsey Shields ’13 knows firsthand what a difference Access2Alumni can make in launching a career.


At last year’s event, she connected with Blair Barrett ‘02, senior program analyst and project manager at SENTEL Corporation, and ultimately landed her first job, working on FAA safety policy documents at SENTEL.

“My job is pretty cool,” she says, “because I work with a team of subject matter experts and, as the editor for all of them, get a broad picture of what they do and how it all works together to deliver effective policy.” 

Her experience wasn’t a fluke. “I have actually hired five Maryland graduates in similar fashion,” says Blair, “and they were--or are--great employees.”

Still not convinced about attending Access2Alumni? Then read on for Kelsey and Blair’s take on what you really need to know about the event.

What would you say to a fellow classmate who's on the fence about attending A2A?

Kelsey: I would tell them that they will not regret going! The alumni who attend the event do so because they care about showing students what they can do with their ARHU degree, so they will walk away from this event with anything from an inspirational bit of advice to a very valuable contact.

As an alum, why do you keep coming back to A2A?

Blair: I enjoy participating in A2A because the students really seem to get a lot out of it, both in terms of networking but also in terms of practical advice they can use in their search for a rewarding job and career.

What is the one piece of career advice you wish you had known as an undergrad?

Blair: I wish someone had told me to pursue the career I was passionate about and in which I was truly interested and naturally good at. Fortunately, I sort of fell into it. I think that a lot of students leave college with a liberal arts degree and are not sure what to do with it. They need to realize how versatile the degree can really be and feel some freedom to pursue what they really want to do. It may seem obvious, but genuine interest in a particular field translates into success in the workplace.



Bryan NehmanBryan Nehman ’96 shares invaluable advice he learned as a student:

I would not have the career in broadcasting I have today without my internship with the Bowie Baysox through the University of Maryland.   History Professor, James Flack encouraged me to apply for the internship that centered around the annual Congressional Baseball game played at the Baysox stadium.  It was that summer working on that game and with the team when I met Ray Hoffman, program director of the radio station in Annapolis, WNAV that carried the games.   Ray gave me an opportunity to “run the board,” on Saturday nights.   It wasn’t easy missing out on parties to play Al Martino and Frank Sinatra, but I was able to use that experience to get a full time job at the station (making slightly over minimum wage) after graduation.   After a few months, I was promoted to News Director, and  3 years later I landed a job in Washington, DC at WMAL.   Now, I’m hosting my own show during Morning Drive on WBAL in Baltimore.   It certainly wasn’t the conventional route but I got there, and it all started with my internship. 


One student in search of an exciting internship. One alum with an internship to fill.

For Halima Adenegan ’11 and Chanelle Hardy ’99, it proved to be a winning combination, thanks to Access2Alumni.

As a senior, Halima attended Access2Alumni in spring 2011 with a plan: to network and find an internship. With graduation looming in December, she knew she’d have almost a year before starting law school. She made a point of connecting with Chanelle, a veteran Access2Alumni volunteer and policy guru at the National Urban League. Chanelle mentioned that her organization might have an internship available that January. Halima landed the gig, gaining invaluable experience in legislative affairs, event planning, and research before starting her studies at Washington & Lee University, where she is completing her first year of law school.


Were you a skeptical attendee?

Halima: I wasn’t skeptical. However, I was a bit nervous.

Any advice for students attending Access2Alumni?

Halima: Read the pamphlet [available at the event] that gives details on the alums’ professional backgrounds. I read Chanelle’s bio and made sure I spoke to her one on one so I would stand out amongst the billion emails I was sure she would receive after the event. [Editor’s note: Get a jump on reading this year’s bios by perusing them online before Access2Alumni.]

Chanelle: At Access2Alumni and the other career networking events in which I participate, there are always a number of great students that I meet and I receive many requests for follow-ups. My schedule is hectic, so I always urge students to be assertive in following up and to be unafraid of annoying me. Halima was that rare student who didn't stop reaching out until we connected. I'm so glad she was persistent.

Looking back at your career success to date, how important was it that other people helped open doors for you?

Chanelle: My career success is a combination of the tremendous work ethic, passion and intellectual curiosity with which I was raised and which was nurtured during my time at UMCP and during law school. But had it not been for employers who were willing to take a risk by hiring me — even when my resume and my years of experience did not yet prove I was qualified — I would never have had the opportunities I was given. And in every case, a key reason that my employers took the risk was because of the individuals in my network who spoke on my behalf — offering references for me, making connections for me, offering advice to help me navigate the process. Networking and relationship building are key.

Can you sum up Access2Alumni in one word?

Halima: Invaluable.

Chanelle: Energy.

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