Back on Campus to Pay It Forward

PWA career roundtables bring alumnae and students together.

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

By Brooke Sietinsons and Susan Ahlborn
Photos by Brooke Sietinsons

Each fall and spring, the Professional Women’s Alliance holds a roundtable to give students an opportunity to learn about the wide variety of careers possible with a liberal arts degree and to build their networks. The alumnae describe their career paths and work lives, sharing insights on skills important in their fields, advice they’d give their younger selves, and more. At the end of March, six College alumnae came to campus for the spring roundtable. Students and alums shared their thoughts on the event.


“My main takeaway was that everyone can pivot at any point. As a sophomore, it does get a little bit scary thinking about careers. But talking to these ladies today really reassured me that whichever pathway I take, whether it’s linear or not, I’ll be okay.” – Sabrina Guo, C’26, studying Health & Societies

“I have a broad range of interests, and learning the different aspects of these women’s careers really helped me to gain a better understanding of what I want to pursue and the different fields I can explore.” – Caroline Schuldt, C’26, Philosophy, Politics, and Economics major, Consumer Psychology minor

“I learned about careers that I didn’t even know existed, and how they involved so many interdisciplinary things that interest me. It was a very eye-opening experience.” – Zara Baig, C’27, undecided

"I’ve taken so many diverse classes since coming to Penn, but I still have no idea what I really want to do. I saw a variety of careers that I could potentially go into and also the process of how to get there.” – Kylee Countryman, C’27, undecided

“A lot of the speakers talked about being bold and being authentically yourself and being okay with that in your career, asking for what you want and doing what you want—actually chasing that. I guess it sounds silly, but I didn’t realize that’s something you could do in a career, like, I want to do this thing, I’m going to talk to this person who is completely outside of my field, who is completely outside of what I know, but I still have the right to take that chance.” – Arike (A.J.) Jacobs, C’24, English major, Africana Studies minor

“I really enjoy coming back to campus. I wish that I had more female mentors to give me advice and guidance as I was thinking through career options at that point in my life. It’s nice to know that some piece of information that I’m giving to current students might help them as they think through their options.” – Jaclyn Ryan, C’01, Head of U.S. Strategy, MetLife (Political Science major)

“I find this program to be valuable because when I was an undergrad, I don’t recall there being many offerings that showed a diversity of career paths. There were certain prescribed paths—you were either pre-med, or you were going to law school, or you were in Wharton. The opportunity to demonstrate to undergrads, especially women, that there are a myriad of options—especially in the public sector, which often goes underrepresented at career fairs—is truly a worthwhile experience.” – Julie Wertheimer, C’07, Project Director, Mental Health and Justice Partnerships at Pew Charitable Trusts (History and Political Science double major) 

In addition to Ryan and Wertheimer, the following alums also shared their experience and advice:

  • Hayley Germack, C’12, N’12, GR’15, Director of Real-World Evidence, AstraZeneca
  • Danielle Halpern, C’99, Clinical Psychologist, Mount Sinai Hospital
  • Tabeen Hossain, C’17, LPS’20, Program Manager of Residential Programs, Philadelphia Energy Authority
  • Khalilah Lawson, C’01, Director of Executive Search, Comcast