The Swat Business Network

Op-Ed by Leo Deibel

On Thursday, March 1 Julian Harper ’08 organized the semiannual alumni meeting of the LinkedIn group “Swarthmore Business Network” in five different US cities. The event run by alumni in the individual cities was first hosted by Rob Steelman ’92 in 2010 in New York City. It quickly became a popular event and by this year’s March 1 meeting, it has spread across the US with events in Washington D.C., Boston, San Francisco and Houston in addition to New York City.

I had found out about the event through the LinkedIn group and, while I had a paper due the next day, I decided to take the two and a half hour trip up to New York to meet the alumni. As it was my first time going I wasn’t sure what to expect, but after having met several alumni during the summer last year, I was mostly just excited to see some familiar faces and meet some other Swatties.

The event itself turned out to be a sort of meet and greet in Hofbräu Bierhaus and when I arrived there was a large group of alumni already there. Though advertised in the Swarthmore Business Network group, it was not only visited by business and finance alums (although these represented the majority), but also a diverse collection of alumni with various backgrounds.

As I came in, I was immediately welcomed by the host; a large German beer was put in my free hand and I was pulled into conversations that included exchanging stories about old classmates, analyzing the financial market, discussing the joys of the beer we were all having and comparing academia to the business world. It really was a Swattie event, filled with diverse, highly engaging, intelligent and friendly people. If it hadn’t been for the age difference and location, this could’ve been just another lengthy discussion at lunch in Sharples.

It was wonderful to feel so at home with what were initially strangers and to feel that sense of community that Swarthmore gave us and that brought us all together. Seeing so many alumni take time off work and travel to the city to see old friends and meet fellow Swatties made me proud to be a member of that group. Last but not least, it was encouraging to see so many alums excited that a student came out to New York to meet them and interested in the current ongoings at Swarthmore.

Overall, the whole event was enriching and I recommend that anyone, even those not interested in finance or business at this point, go to one of the upcoming ones. Chances are that there will be one in Philly next time for those who don’t want to travel to DC or New York. For those that do come — I, as well as the rest of the alumni, will look forward to seeing you!

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