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For Booth students, the annual Alumni Angel Awards are not just a celebration of alumni who go above and beyond in giving back to the school. They’re also an opportunity to strengthen the connections among Booth graduates and current students. “The Alumni Angel Awards reinspire alumni. They’re a way of saying, ‘Hey, here’s what your classmates are doing to help others. You should give it a try,’” said Trevor Gingras. He, along with fellow Full-Time MBA students Lexi Messmer and Jackie Yuh, is part of the Dean’s Student & Alumni Representatives group, which oversees the awards. And this year, there was no shortage of exemplary alumni to choose from.

Among this year’s winners is Elizabeth Kim, ’14, who was recognized for her involvement in on-campus activities. “I remember how daunting the recruiting process felt,” Kim said. “Trying to alleviate that feeling for students is one of the reasons I stay involved.” Kim, an engagement manager at McKinsey & Company, spends part of her time connecting the firm to current Booth students and vice versa. In nominating Kim, a student called her a “phenomenal ambassador of Booth” for both creating opportunities within McKinsey and for being a consummate professional in interfacing students on campus with firm representatives.

For Kim, being a good alumna comes down to consistency, and Messmer agrees. Messmer encourages her fellow students to “figure out how to form a lasting relationship” with alumni. To do so, they both suggest discussing topics beyond firms, interviews, and resumes. Kim is looking to give what she calls “holistic advice,” while Messmer noted that “advice on anything from preparing for an upcoming interview to planning a move to Chicago is helpful.” The more meaningful the conversation, the better the relationship is for both parties.

I have a personal interest in helping people because I know how deeply satisfying it is to see someone you’ve invested in succeed.

— Victoria Gustafson

In some ways, the student-alumni relationship is more reciprocal than ever before. As another Alumni Angel Award winner, Victoria Gustafson, ’01, put it, “The process of getting hired is changing, and good talent is very hard to find.” In other words, employers aren’t looking to fill jobs anymore; they’re looking for people who are adaptable and interested in growing with a company. A person can’t glean from a resume a candidate’s ability to adapt.  Getting to know someone well enough to see if he or she can think on his or her feet requires a relationship—one that goes beyond a few rounds of emails and weekday coffee dates.

While these sorts of relationships may require a larger investment from both parties, everybody agrees that the return justifies the effort. “I have a personal interest in helping people because I know how deeply satisfying it is to see someone you’ve invested in succeed,” said Gustafson, a partner at Chicago-based growth consulting firm Verde Associates. And it can be fun, too: “I enjoy meeting new Boothies. The people I meet feel very natural to me,” said Kim. That’s because Booth students and alumni have much in common to discuss—whether it pertains to challenging courses or hesitations about entering a certain industry. The alumni network is a safe place for students to go with their questions.

After all, alumni are allies with expertise. And to best take advantage of this unique relationship, students who participated in the Alumni Angel Awards process returned to the well on multiple occasions. “Very few of the people who were nominated did one big, great thing. Instead, they did a number of different, smaller things that added up to being very meaningful for someone,” Messmer recounted. The consistency and depth of the connection are what ultimately make for a meaningful experience for the graduate too, because according to Gustafson, “getting to know someone deeply is going to be the best way to hire for a job in the future.”

Alumni Angel Award Winners 2017

Paola Caburlotto, ’11 (EXP-16)
International Initiative

Victoria Gustafson, ’01
Opportunity Creation

Ricardo Haneine, ’84
Personal Support

Elizabeth Kim, ’14
On-Campus Involvement

Ravi Mukkamala, ’16
Professional Guidance

—By Abigail Covington