A Sweet Success: Reflections on Sweeten Up Your Network 2017

33206351623_3f2bc1eabe_oIn partnership with the Career Center and the Office of Alumni Relations, the UMBC Student Alumni Association (SAA) was proud to host the annual Sweeten Up Your Network event on Tuesday, April 11. As one of Career Month’s staple events, Sweeten Up Your Network is open to students and alumni from all majors and years, and is almost entirely planned and executed by a team of SAA members. Because of their amazing efforts, this year we had just under 30 alumni and over 50 students participate!

As the Assistant Director of Alumni Relations, I have the honor and privilege of supporting both current students and alumni in developing programming that connects them to campus and one another. Sweeten Up Your Network is one of the most special examples of how these types of programs can really impact both sides of the speed networking table. I asked two participants from the evening to share a little more about their experience.

Julia Celtnieks ‘13, Media & Communication Studies

Despite being a relatively recent alumna, as well as a staff member, I’d never made it to Sweeten Up Your Network before this year. Nonetheless, I was intrigued by the opportunity to help students hone their networking skills, as well as offer some of my insights as a young professional. As it turned out, I had as much to learn from this experience as they did!

Most of the students I met and spoke with were going into fields completely different than my own: the sciences, psychology, engineering. At first it was challenging to tailor the conversation to their specific experiences, but then I realized I didn’t have to. There are plenty of ways to make connections, and many things I’ve learned over the course of my post-grad life, like the ins and outs of entry-level job searching, can apply to almost any area. Sweeten Up Your Network is really about getting students used to the idea of networking in general, and I think giving them the chance to talk with alumni in a variety of careers is what makes it so unique…and so perennially popular.

Alida Hartwell ‘19, Bioinformatics and Computational Biology

I have been with SAA since the fall 2016 semester. SAA is full of amazingly motivated and helpful people. They always manage to make our meetings not only productive, but fun as well. All SAA events that I have participated in have felt like that, too. I also love that our events are planned and run by the SAA members.

Specifically relating to this event, I was very excited going into it. Ever since I joined SAA, the upperclassmen have talked up Sweeten Up Your Network. My experience was even better than what I was expecting. There were so many alumni from all different fields. I got the chance to speak with people who are in fields that I am considering going into, which was awesome for me because I got to see how powerful a degree from UMBC can be in the real world. Even talking to people from different degrees and fields was eye-opening. All of the alumni were passionate about UMBC and still love it […] it made me feel very proud to be attending this university. Overall, I think the best thing about Sweeten Up Your Network was the chance to see what it will be like years after graduation, whether that is what careers people with my major have or how much Retriever pride alumni carry with them!

33206351523_5884d6e832_oSo there you have it! If you’re an alum who wants to give back to the UMBC community, click HERE to learn about all the pathways to get involved. We’ve always got events and programs going on that could use your support.

Jessica Wyatt, Assistant Director of Alumni Relations

Meet the Staff: Julia Celtnieks ’13, 50th Anniversary Program Assistant

Here in the Office of Alumni Relations, we spend a lot of time telling stories about and talking with our wonderfully supportive alums. However, we’ve decided to turn the tables and take time to get to know the people behind the scenes – the  advancement and alumni relations staff members who are hard at work on behalf of our alumni. Today we’re talking with Julia Celtnieks ’13, media and communication studies, one of our 50th anniversary program assistants.

AH_Headshots15-Julia-8226Name: Julia Celtnieks

Job Title: 50th Anniversary Program Assistant

Focus Area: Alumni and Development Communications

Years at UMBC: 4 and change (3.5 as a student and 9 months, so far, as a staff member)

Grad Year: 2013

Where are you from originally? I’m an Army brat. I was born in D.C. and lived in Maryland, Georgia, Virginia, Germany, and Kansas before coming back here as a teenager.

What do you love most about UMBC? The sense of community is one of my favorite things about UMBC, because we’re all able to bond over how unique this place is. Sure, we don’t have a football team, but there are so many quirks and common threads running through the UMBC fabric that unite us all. I’ve met some of my best friends here, and now I’m working for the university. In an odd but not unpleasant way, it feels like I never left.

What’s your favorite thing about your job? I really like writing for this blog and doing the Alumni Association’s social media. It gives me a chance not only to represent the institution, but to hear all kinds of stories from many different corners of the community. The Retriever Love Week feature, for instance, was a lot of fun to do. There was also that day we had a bunch of wiggly, squiggly Chesapeake Bay Retriever puppies over for a photo shoot. But that’s a story for another time.

Who do you admire and why? All the women in my family are wonderful and witty and strong and smart and they inspire me every single day.

Have you ever done anything crazy or out of the ordinary? I was going to tell you I won the Homecoming pancake-eating contest my freshman year, which I did, but anyone who’s actually seen me eat pancakes can tell you that’s not really out of the ordinary at all. I did get a T-shirt for it, which doesn’t normally happen when I eat pancakes, so that’s something, right?

Tell us about all the crazy, out of the ordinary things you’ve been up to in a class note!