Alumni Mentor Students for Future Success

Fifty students received career advice from more than 100 alumni during the initial launch of this program.

Lehigh CEE Alumni Student Mentoring
Katherine Fletcher '16 credits the alumni-student mentoring program for her job offer this spring. She's currently an aviation engineer at AECOM in Philadelphia.

During her upperclassmen years, Katherine Fletcher '16 spent a lot of time searching for and learning about companies that she might want to work for after graduating.

"I noticed that AECOM was listed as one of the top engineering design firms for the last few years," she says, "so I spent some time researching them online and just fell in love with the work they did."

Throughout her senior year, Fletcher applied to dozens of jobs posted by AECOM. She knew she was a great candidate and that they wouldn't find anyone more excited to be there, but still, she had no luck.

Down but never out, her interest was piqued by the Alumni-Student Mentorship Program announced by the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department and the Center for Career and Professional Development in early 2016.

"I selected three mentors, all from different industries, including one from my dream company AECOM," Fletcher recalls.

After a few conversations with her AECOM mentor, Karl Schreiter '97, Katherine received not one but two interview inquiries there — one for a position in its Albany office working on highways, and another for an aviation engineering position in Philadelphia.

She aced the interviews, received offers for both jobs, and is now a few months into being an aviation engineer. "The general layout of airport terminals, hangars, pavements for taxiways and highways — it all gets planned in my department," she says. "And my job is entirely thanks to Lehigh's awesome alumni helping out students like myself."

Fletcher was one of 49 students who received career advice from a pool of more than 100 Lehigh CEE alumni as part of this pilot program that launched in early 2016.

Gregory Kuklinski '97, a project manager for Alfred Benesch & Company, was serving on the Lehigh Board of Trustees when the program was still in its initial planning phase. He recognized Civil and Environmental Engineering as a department where something like this could thrive for its deep and dedicated alumni base. The program was started as a one semester pilot program along with the English Department to test the existing computer platform and the response from both students and alumni. "This is a win-win for everyone as students get the opportunity to network with alumni, and alumni get to stay connected and engaged with the university," Kuklinski says.

Within minutes of launching, there were already CEE alumni signed up, and by the close of registration, those 100+ alumni had created more than 230 unique mentoring positions.

Panos Diplas, chair of the department of civil and environmental engineering and P.C. Rossin Professor of water resources engineering, says the mentoring program has already been a major success. "Our department faculty provide the necessary subject matter preparation and academic advising, while our alumni complement that with professional and career-related advice, as well as possible opportunities for internships and networking," he says. "As a result, upon graduation, our students are better equipped to compete in the work environment and contribute to our society."

After a successful pilot program, the Center for Career and Professional Development (CCPD) solicited advice from participants on how it could be improved. Kuklinski and Karen Schaufeld '83, members of the Board of Trustees Student Life Committee, along with CCPD Director Lori Kennedy, are currently testing new computer platforms that will be able to accommodate more departments and affinity groups on campus. The mentoring program will be continued again in the Spring 2017 semester for both the CEE and English departments.

"Lehigh alums have always cared about helping others in the Lehigh family, and Lehigh is known for this strong network," Schaufeld says. "The mentoring program broadens and deepens the reach between students and alums, and the roll out to other majors and affinity groups will embed the program even deeper into the Lehigh experience and DNA."

Kennedy agrees. "It's a winning combination to connect talented students with our alumni, who are very open to playing a meaningful role in our students' success," she says.

If you'd like additional information on the Alumni-Student Mentoring program, you may contact Lori Kennedy at

By John Gilpatrick

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