Skakel McCooey

It is a question Yalies often ponder when choosing a career: Should they focus on making money or making a difference? On Friday and Saturday, Yale alumni and students suggested that the answer could be both during “Skills for Changemakers: Careers for a Better World” — an event hosted by Careers, Life and Yale, a program within the Association of Yale Alumni.

The event, held in Linsly-Chittenden Hall, featured a keynote conversation between University Secretary and Vice President of Student Life Kimberly Goff-Crews and President of New Haven Promise Patricia Melton ’83, as well as alumni-led seminars and several networking opportunities. Twenty-eight alumni returned to New Haven for the event — a historic turnout at a Careers, Life and Yale event, according to Steve Blum ’74, a senior director of strategic initiatives at AYA.

“When they graduate, today’s Yalies will continue their life journeys alongside our 171,000 alums,” Blum said.  “Yale alums are intensely motivated by helping Yale students get started the right way. … Our alums have life wisdom and practical advice that adds to what students can already get from faculty, career advisers and family.”

In their speeches, many of the alumni in attendance stressed their deep commitment to helping current Yalies find career paths that would not only allow them to have a consistent revenue stream, but would also allow them to pursue careers they find meaningful.

In her keynote dialogue, Goff-Crews spoke about searching for her path after graduating from Yale Law School. She explained that after spending a combined seven years as an undergraduate and law student at Yale, she went straight to a large law firm in New York City.

She said that she used to volunteer in the city and eventually realized she preferred that commitment to her actual job. She then described the moment she decided that she no longer wanted to practice law.

“I remember distinctly that … there was something about [my bosses’] displeasure with me taking the time to [celebrate Easter] with my family that made me realize that this environment and culture is not one I would survive in for a very long time,” she said.

She added that the combination of her volunteer work and that experience made her decide that “something had to change.” Goff-Crews went on to spend the past 26 years in higher education.

Other alumni attendees also said they were committed to working with students and sharing their expertise.

“I’ve fallen deeply in love with the importance of what alumni can do for and with students,” Blum said in his introduction to the keynote address. “That matters to me more than anything in my life perhaps other than my family.”

David Bergman ’78 told the News that inspiring students to pursue careers that work toward creating a better world is of critical importance today, given the current political climate. He went on to say that he was happy to attend the event to “pay it back.”

Stephen Albright GRD ’19, a doctoral student in the Physics Department, said he came to the event to learn more about jobs that extend beyond traditional industry and research positions. He said that he was particularly interested in pursuing a career that would allow him to make a difference in the world.

There are over 120 domestic and 40 international Yale Clubs and Associations for alumni.

Skakel McCooey | .