It's never too soon to bring recent graduates into the Northwestern alumni community.
"Attending young alumni events is a steppingstone," said Cindy Moreno (C06), the young alumni co-chair for the NU Club of Chicago. "We want them to be involved so, one day, they'll be our board members."
Northwestern Alumni Association clubs, such as the NU Clubs of Chicago and Washington, D.C., and the Council of One Hundred, have worked to provide as many steppingstones as possible.
The NU Club of Chicago has long hosted two of the most popular events for young alumni: an annual Homecoming party at Joe's Bar in Chicago and a perennially sold-out February ski trip. And the club recently added new events.
This past summer the Chicago young alumni club instituted "Wildcat Wednesday," a monthly series of happy hour outings at various downtown bars on the second Wednesday of every month; the proceeds from the $10 entry fee go to charity. (The club selected Reach the World-Chicago as the event's beneficiary in September. For more on RTW, see "Take a Bike.")
So far the event — which is not limited to young alumni — has proven popular, drawing 30 to 40 attendees per month. And the appeal is more than just good times.
"It gives our alumni a constant networking opportunity, which is a big objective at the NAA this year with the tough economic times," Moreno says. "When you come, you definitely meet a diverse group of people."
The NU Club of Washington, D.C., has taken a similar approach. The club hosted the first "Young Alumni and Friends" bar night at the Midtown Loft in November. About 80 people attended the gathering, and nearly 60 young alumni donated to the club's scholarship fund, which provides support to Northwestern students.
Also in November the Washington club co-hosted the NAA's Northwestern Explores: "The Economy: What Happened and What's Next?" The club offered discounts to encourage young alumni to attend the networking event and panel discussion.
"When recent graduates move to D.C., many are new to the area and unaware of the strong Northwestern alumni community that exists outside of Chicago," said Linda Rosa (WCAS08), the club's young alumni co-chair. "By reaching out to young alums and encouraging their participation at our events, we help provide them opportunities to make personal and professional connections in the D.C. area."
The Council of One Hundred — an invitation-only group of successful female graduates — was originally created to mentor women students, but in recent years the organization expanded its focus to include young alumnae as well. The group's annual fall meeting, which is geared toward young alumnae, attracted its largest audience ever this past year as 130 women attended a panel discussion on career skills and a networking session.
This year the organization plans to reinvigorate and expand its one-on-one mentoring program, where members give individual guidance to young alumnae and students in person or by phone over a period of up to six months.
"With the recession we've seen a huge uptrend [in young alumnae participation]," said C100 chair Candy Deemer (J76, GJ77). "The requests for one-on-one mentors have jumped up even more than the sheer attendance numbers. Right now we've got 100 names on a list that we've got to match up with council members."
Visit www.alumni.northwestern.edu/clubs for more information on the NAA's regional and national clubs and young alumni programming in your area.