Brandeis Alumni, Family and Friends

Alumni Support Drives Student Career Development

Three alumni-supported programs are helping students identify and pursue career opportunities.

A girl stands in front of a building.

Career exploration and preparation are a vital part of the Brandeis student experience. So it’s no surprise that alumni and friends choose to support the Hiatt Career Center with their philanthropy. In fact, donors have established three different programs that support students’ pathways to professional success.

Connecting Students and Alumni Mentors

The Rise Together Mentor Network is a virtual community where students can search for and connect with alumni volunteers. It’s similar to LinkedIn, except its users are solely made up of Brandeisians who have opted in to participate. Students don’t need to send cold emails to people they don’t know, because alumni have already indicated they want to help. 

Through the platform, which currently comprises 3,800 students and alumni, students can build their networking and relationship-building skills, explore specific industries and career fields, and set up informational interviews. Alumni mentors provide insight and ideas, feedback, and referrals to other people to talk to. 

For example, Alison Hagani ’22 turned to the network when she was applying to law school. She had lots of questions but no family or friends who were lawyers to guide her. She ended up connecting with two alumni who were delighted to help. “It was really enlightening to get multiple perspectives,” said Hagani. “They shared insights you just can’t get on the internet, including what law school is like for those who want to work in public interest fields.”

The network also hosts career events—nearly 50 events featuring more than 150 alumni guest speakers to date. The program, which is hosted on BConnect, was established in 2021 by an anonymous donor.

Opening Doors to Internships

Internships offer invaluable experiential learning opportunities for students. Yet many internships remain unpaid, which makes it difficult for students with limited financial means to take advantage of them. 

Enter the World of Work (WOW) fellowship program. Students with unpaid internships can receive a stipend of up to $6,000. The fellowships support many different fields, including politics and public service, social work, social justice, Jewish service, and climate action. 

More than 700 students have benefited from the program since its creation in 2008. Last year, students interned at organizations ranging from the Jewish Public Library Archives in Montreal to the Massachusetts State House to the New England Aquarium. 

A number of alumni and friends have funded WOW fellowships since the program’s inception.

Keeping Up with the Digital Job Market

The job market is changing rapidly, and the Hiatt Center must constantly evolve also to meet students’ and employers’ needs. That means more personalized guidance, more cutting-edge technologies built for career advancement, and more immediate access to Hiatt’s people and resources. 

That’s why an anonymous donor was inspired to create the Sarah Leah Heller Career Services Endowment fund to help the center bolster pre-existing services and embrace digital tools that are increasingly important in a digital job marketplace.

For example, Hiatt has secured AI-driven software that enables students to conduct mock interviews and then receive instant feedback on their body language, the substance of their answers, as well as tips for improvement. The tech also helps students with their resumes—reviewing, grading, and providing suggestions for improvement. 

The Hiatt Career Center is grateful to alumni and friends who have designated their gifts to support students’ career development.  

“Hiatt empowers students to transform their diverse backgrounds and liberal arts education into impactful professional journeys,” says executive director Jon Schlesinger. “These donor-supported programs are instrumental to equipping Brandeis students with the skills and resources needed for success in an ever-evolving professional landscape.”

Check out Hiatt's directory of opportunities for alumni to find out how you can make a difference.