My professional career has taken me from Ann Arbor, Michigan, to Madison, Wisconsin, to Iowa City, Iowa, to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to Lexington, Kentucky, to Las Vegas, Nevada, to Orlando, Florida. Sometimes I had to go in search of opportunity, sometimes opportunity took me along for the ride. Either way, my address changed.
While roughly 70 percent of our alums stay in Florida, the other 30 percent travel far and wide. This week I’m in New York City and Washington, D.C., talking to alums about how they got to these cities and how we can get more of our students opportunities to live and work there. UCF has almost 5,000 alums in NYC and more than 3,000 in the nation’s capitol. We have even established a Capital Markets Advisory Board in New York made up of highly placed alums who can help connect students with potential employers. We are hoping to create a similar board in D.C.
One of my biggest responsibilities as dean is ensuring we expand students’ horizons— that we help them see possibilities they didn’t know existed for them. Some of those possibilities are beyond Florida, like working on Wall Street or in the U.S. Treasury Department. To do this, we need to reduce the barriers people perceive to striking out in a new direction. Perhaps the biggest barrier is fear of the unknown. If you don’t know anyone in the town and fear getting lost in the crowd, you are much less likely to see a place as a viable choice for you.
The EXCHANGE, presented by FAIRWINDS Credit Union, is designed to give students a better picture of the careers that await them. Our initiative to build alumni networks in key cities is meant to help overcome fear of the unknown and ease the transition to new places when career aspirations take students beyond Florida. What I’m looking for this week, is a few alums who will act as guides for those Knights who are interested in joining them in a far off place. It’s how we all need to work together to extend the UCF brand and ensure our students have the opportunities that will take them places.