Winter 2017

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Northwestern is the quarterly alumni magazine for Northwestern University.
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Alumni Life

A New Way to Network

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Host or join a mentorship circle by logging into Through the website, alumni can also sign up to become a host for the Northwestern Externship Program, a job-shadowing program that offers current students the opportunity to learn about different fields.

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Through mentorship circles, alumni can grow their Northwestern network in a small-group setting.

Mentorship Circle
From left, Mara Alioto, Bruce Albert, Aaron Mendelsohn and Erik Zorn

On Aug. 2, four Northwestern alumni in various stages of their legal careers gathered in New York City to participate in a mentorship circle, a small group of people who meet to discuss a specific topic or industry. The alumni included Erik Zorn ’15, who is considering law school; Mara Alioto ’15 JD, an associate at a large law firm; Aaron Mendelsohn ’99 JD, who has a legal and investigatory role at a Big Four accounting firm; and Bruce Albert ’92, the in-house counsel for an investment adviser. For two hours they traded experiences and advice on topics that ranged from law school to career progression.

“The mentorship circle was a great discussion because, in a group setting, you get the benefit of learning from others, getting a breadth of views and opinions that could be helpful and increasing the potential for enhanced networking,” says Albert, general counsel and chief compliance officer at Hardman Johnston Global Advisors, who hosted the circle for the Northwestern Alumni Association.

“The term ‘circle’ is a great description. I was able to connect with other alumni and grow my circle of friends.” –Aaron Mendelsohn

Northwestern alumni can now volunteer to host or participate in a mentorship circle through the Northwestern Network Mentorship Program, an easy-to-use online platform that cultivates relationships among alumni and between alumni and students.

Since the NAA’s mentorship program launched in January 2016, more than 6,000 alumni and students from 66 countries and 90 industries have joined to share knowledge and resources, build professional networks, gain industry knowledge, or explore a career change or graduate school. The award-winning program has also facilitated more than 1,100 mentorship matches, with 36 percent representing alumni-to-alumni connections. In June the Council for Advancement and Support of Education gave Northwestern the 2017 Platinum Award for Best Practices in Alumni Relations in recognition of “a great mentorship program, with even better results,” according to CASE judges.

Through mentorship circles, alumni can get to know each other a little better than they would at a networking event, says Carey Graeber ’75, a director at large on the NAA board. Graeber, who serves as chair of the NAA’s career advancement committee, helped bring mentorship circles to the program after participating in them as a member of the Council of One Hundred, a group of alumnae who are dedicated to the advancement of Northwestern women throughout their careers.

“Mentoring takes on many forms,” Graeber says. “It can involve career advice as well as networking. Many times, one-on-one relationships will come out of mentorship circles, and it can become a way to broaden your Northwestern network by going outside of your peer group.”

Alioto has worked as an associate at the New York law firm Clifford Chance since graduating from the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law two years ago. She enjoys her firm’s strong transactional practice and international focus, and she attended the Aug. 2 mentorship circle to learn about ways other alumni are using their legal degrees and the experiences they’ve had.

“The mentorship circle was helpful because we were all at very different points in our careers and everyone had unique experiences,” she says. “Each person brought a different perspective on navigating a legal career. At the same time, much of the advice stressed the importance of networking and good training early on.”

Mendelsohn also hoped to make new connections and learn about what other accomplished alumni are doing in the legal field.

“The term ‘circle’ is a great description for the program,” he says. “I was able to connect with other alumni and grow my network and circle of friends.”