Kalamazoo College Guilds—Professional Networks
"It never ceases to amaze me how effective anyone can be by tapping their networks, and the Guilds are probably the best entry-point professional network a student can use."
—Douglas Steel '80, Chief Scientific Officer at PhotoKinetics Inc.
"I am finding LinkedIn to be a useful way to find/make connections!"
—Christa Clapp '97, Associate Director at Point Carbon Thomson Reuters
Unique to Kalamazoo College and housed in the Center for Career and Professional Development, the Guilds convene students, alumni, faculty, staff, and friends of the College around common professional interests on the professional networking platform called LinkedIn. Similar to Facebook, LinkedIn allows members a free online profile with a unique URL to showcase their professional biography and connect with others.
In a contemporary take on a medieval tradition, the Guilds foster mentoring relationships in which professional "masters" share their experience, knowledge, and connections with student "apprentices." Alumni and others offer online and in-person mentoring, job-search or grad school application tips, externship and internship opportunities in their organizations, and connections to professional networks and entry-level positions. LinkedIn, boasting a membership of over 175 million, offers a platform to search for people with specific interests or experience, ask questions, start discussions, advertise upcoming events and workshops, and collaborate on projects with those both on campus and across the world.
The Guilds galvanize participation around interdisciplinary fields and issues that encourage participants to identify and follow their "passions to professions." As of January 2013, the seven Kalamazoo College Guilds are: Arts & Media, Business, Health, Education, Law, Nonprofit & Public Service, and Science & Technology.
Guilds foster inter-generational connections through face-to-face interaction as well as virtual communication. A common LinkedIn group, The Kalamazoo College Guilds, hosts a subgroup for each Guild. Since all Guild participants have access to one another through a single LinkedIn group, connections can be made between Guilds and collaborative interdisciplinary programs (the Business and Health Guild co-sponsor a discussion on "Careers in Sports Management," for example).
For students, Guilds connect elements of their K-Plan (a highly individualized undergraduate curriculum of rigorous liberal arts scholarship and opportunities for experiential education in both domestic and international settings) into a more integrated educational experience and develop professional relationships useful after graduation. These inter-generational networks benefit alumni professionals as well, and involvement in the Guilds offers a meaningful lifelong connection to the College and a way to contribute time and talent at a level of their choosing, from answering a question posted on the Guilds' discussion forum to hosting a K-Intern for the summer in their organization.
Faculty and staff find opportunities in the Guilds to integrate classroom and community experiences within a curriculum that values learning through study, action, and reflection. As alumni and community members bring their real-world professional wisdom to campus—to classes, meetings, extracurricular presentations, and online webinars—the Guilds are a bridge between campus and "life after K."
For more information on the Kalamazoo College Guilds, or to join the on-line discussions today, visit the Kalamazoo College Guilds.