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"30 Minutes" Goes Nationwide with Skype Video Chat

June 1, 2011

Our popular 30 Minutes program brings students interested in a specific job or industry face-to-face with alumni experienced in that field. In just half an hour (hence the name), Carleton networking magic happens.

Until recently, however, volunteering for this program was limited to alumni within easy driving distance of Carleton. No longer! Thanks to Skype video chat, alumni can share their career wisdom from anywhere with an internet connection.

Creating Connections Across the Miles

Living and working in Idaho, Carleton alumna Lynea Newcomer '02 couldn't exactly pop over to the Carleton campus for a half-hour chat. But her experience as general manager of Idaho's Bounty, a locally-grown food co-op, made her an otherwise perfect candidate for the 30 Minutes program's Agriculture Week.

Enter Skype to save the day. By logging in to the free online voice- and video-chat application, Newcomer and other faraway alums were able to erase the miles and offer Carleton students the benefit of their experience.

It's not the technology that stands out in Newcomer's mind, though. What captivated her was the connection she felt with the three Carleton students with whom she spoke.

"I had a wonderful experience talking with these young adults about their hopes and fears," Newcomer said.  "It really made me aware of how far I've traveled in my first decade out of school."

Her path from Carleton French major to Idaho co-op manager was anything but direct, Newcomer acknowledged. And that was something she felt was important to share with the students in their time together.

"With all of them, I talked about the fact that I didn't follow a direct route from Carleton to here," she said. "What helped me discover my passion for local food was the relationships I formed along the way. I encouraged the students to make the most of those connections and relationships in their own lives, even in part-time jobs that may not seem related to their goals."

Would Newcomer recommend the 30 Minutes program? "Absolutely. It's so refreshing and enlightening to visit with students about what the future could hold for them. And you can relate to them in an entirely different way, because you're not in a parental role. You can be a fun mentor to them."

You may also experience a special kind of time travel. "It feels like a visit with an earlier version of you," Newcomer said. "It's a chance to check in with your younger self and say, 'It's going to be okay. Really.'"

About the 30 Minutes Program

Gone are the days when graduating seniors could simply search a job database, apply to a few positions of interest, and end up with multiple offers. In today’s economy, recent grads are starting their job search much earlier, with a much greater emphasis on networking.  

That’s where the 30 Minutes initiative comes in—the Career Center’s most popular program. 

The idea is simple: Alumni take an afternoon off from work to meet with students for casual, candid, one-on-one conversations.  Students ask questions about the alum’s industry, a typical day/week in their shoes, educational requirements, resources for learning more, and ways to gain experience in the field. Furthermore, alumni often refer students to contacts or resources outside of the Carleton network. 

These meetings are a quick thirty minutes, so students can get on with their busy lives at Carleton. The brevity and informality of the sessions makes them an engaging and low-pressure way to introduce students to the power of networking.

"It's really helpful talking to someone in an informal setting," said Sydney Weydemeyer '11, one of the students who recently connected via Skype with Lynea Newcomer '02. "Other career and life-after-Carleton conversations I have engaged with alums have been much more formal, so I appreciated having a different atmosphere in which to discuss my future."

Established in 2009 in partnership with the Carleton alumni network in the Twin Cities, the 30 Minutes program went nationwide in 2011 with the addition of Skype video-chat sessions. The program is even easier on Skype: Alumni sit comfortably at home or work while students ask them questions from one of the Career Center’s interview rooms.

Since the program’s inception, more than 250 students have connected with 100 different alumni, leading to internships, interviews, and much more.

How to Volunteer 

Think that you could take an afternoon off to participate in the 30-Minutes program?  Just sign up through the enrollment form, and a Career Counselor will be in touch with you shortly about contributing to this fast-growing and invaluable initiative.

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This page was last updated on 5 February 2016