Connect With College Students and Alumni as a Volunteer

From online mentoring to alumni panels, there are many ways to help today's students.

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If the approach of fall has you thinking of your college days and wanting to reconnect with Penn and its people, please consider volunteering for one of the Penn Arts & Sciences Alumni Engagement initiatives. The School is working to build programs that give students and young alums a variety of ways to get advice and mentorship from those who have been there, and that represent the exciting diversity of our alumni, offering role models for all College students.

“As working professionals, we have the opportunity to give our time to benefit others,” says Simeon Esprit, C’16. “We often take our experiences for granted, but our time could be the fast track others desperately need. I also enjoy meeting more alumni who care about maintaining a strong alumni community.”

Simeon has been a Penn Alumni Interviewer for international candidates since his own graduation, saying, “I was an international student myself, and I’ve noticed it has helped candidates ask questions about the international student experience.” He also participates in alumni panels like the College Alumni Mentoring Series (CAMS), which give students an idea of what to expect when they transition into the workforce, and illuminates different paths they can take. “I like to give back and provide the mentorship I would have wanted as a student,” he says.

Professional Women’s Association Advisory Board (PWA) member Lola Tsetlin, C'96, is also an alumni interviewer and participant in panels and roundtables, where she’s shared her “non-straightforward path from a psychology major to a career on Wall Street.”

“I very strongly believe in the value of liberal arts education and think it can lead to many different careers,” she continues. “I started Penn two years after arriving to the United States as a refugee from the former Soviet Union. I understood paths to careers in sciences and medicine but had no idea about any business-related careers. I wish I was able to learn more about those while I was still in school. I hope that by sharing my experience with students and young alumnae, I can encourage them to explore professional areas they may not be familiar with or thought would be a fit for them.”

Kwabena Asiedu, C’08, another alumni interviewer, is now also a Ben Connect mentor and enjoys this new opportunity to connect with Penn and to the younger generation. He’s found that mentoring is a way to give back that can adapt to wherever he is and whatever he is doing. “I think what I've gotten out of mentoring is being able to see the diversity of people, and their interests and aspirations,” he says. “It has taught me to be more inquisitive. It's helped me develop a style of coaching that I've been able to use professionally as well, as I've managed my own teams.”

Here are three ways you can volunteer:

  • Sign up to be a Ben Connect mentor. Ben Connect is an online platform that lets students seek advice about different industries and careers, post a question to the discussion forum, browse resources, and more. Alumni can select the ways in which they wish to engage and control the type and frequency of connections.
  • Volunteer for CAMS event to give students a look at life beyond Penn. In Mentoring Meals, a small group of students meet with an alum, often over lunch. Larger programs feature a panel of alums in a particular field with a larger audience of students. Recent programs have focused on consulting, healthcare, and sustainability, both virtually and in-person.
  • Join the PWA community. Created by professional alumnae of the College to support women students and young alumnae, PWA programs include panel discussions, career roundtables, and enrichment programs like the Elevate Yourself Leadership Series. All professionally accomplished woman, from a variety of backgrounds and working across a diverse range of industries, are invited to become part of PWA.

“I think all of us can think back to a person who has made a positive difference in our professional lives. Volunteering with the College allows you to be that person!” says Lola Tsetlin. “There are so many different ways to get involved that anyone can find one that moves them the most.”

To learn more about ways to volunteer with Penn Arts & Sciences, please contact Kathe Archibald, Director of Global Alumni Engagement, at


By Susan Ahlborn