Launched in 2007, the Career Center’s Scholars program has been a great success. The program has taken groups of students to cities across the United States to learn about a variety of professional fields from influential and successful Carleton alumni. One of the latest Scholars trips—public policy in Washington, D.C.—featured a brand new dimension of the Scholars program: Couches for Carls. The students toured offices and met with Carleton alumni who work in different areas of the public policy sector each day, but in the evenings they also spent time with alumni hosts from recent graduating classes who taught them about what it’s like to be a young alumnus just starting out and gave them a couch to sleep on.
“It was really cool to get the opportunity to talk to alumni who were not so far removed from us in age,” says Ben Hellerstein ’12. “A lot of the people we were talking to during the office visits graduated in the ’90s or earlier, so being able to stay with these recent graduates gave me a much better sense of what it would be like to get started in that field.” Jewel Johnson ’13 arrived in D.C. with lots of questions for her hosts, and she wasn’t disappointed. “The hosts were very talkative and answered my questions about their professions or even how they entertain themselves after work,” she says.
Hosts Hal Baseman ’09 and Judy Bao ’10 had participated in the Scholars program as students, and they thought that adding a home stay to the program was a great idea. “I really enjoyed showing the students D.C., sharing my work experiences in public policy, and showing them what life outside work as a young professional is like,” says Baseman. Bao also was excited about having the opportunity to help students learn about the social and economic realities of life after Carleton. “The students gained a more holistic view of what it’s like to enter the job force,” she says. “Plus, it’s a great personal way to give back to Carleton.”
The Career Center hopes to expand Couches for Carls beyond the Scholars program by offering home stays for students who are traveling for interviews, job-shadowing, or graduate/professional school visits. To find out more about becoming an alumni host or to get involved, email Jessica Mueller in the Career Center.