Ole Biz event fosters connections

One of the many ways in which St. Olaf fosters connections between current students and alumni is through the Ole Suite Events, which include: Ole Arts, Ole Biz, Ole Cup, Ole Law and Policy, Ole Social Impact, Ole STEM, Ole Health and Making it in the Arts. 

On Wednesday, Oct. 25, dozens of students attended Ole Biz at the Minneapolis Club. The event was designed for conversations and connections with alumni in several business fields: advertising, PR, communications, business analysis and data analytics, consulting, entrepreneurship, finance and banking, human resources, management, manufacturing, logistics and operations, marketing and sales and technology. Associate Director of Career Development and Coaching in the Piper Center Bryan Shealer helped plan the event.

“Students are able [to] explore and learn about opportunities in business through meaningful conversations,” Shealer said. “We hope and encourage students to follow up with alumni so that relationships and opportunities can continue after the event.”

This year, the event was revamped to make it more fast paced and interactive. 

“While the purpose of Ole Biz hasn’t changed, the original model created one large networking space for students and alumni to connect,” Shealer said. “After analyzing feedback from students and alumni, we realized that students needed a more efficient way to find the people and conversations they needed.” 

In response to this feedback the Piper Center integrated a more innovative model that breaks down business into the aforementioned fields. Students were able to choose the areas of greatest interest to them, connect with those alumni directly and build deeper connections. Each student was able to specify two breakout sessions they’d want to be included in. Rather than searching a large room for the alumni in a student’s area of interest, they could see each of the alumni in specific fields in one location. 

In terms of future Ole Suite events, the Piper Center is hoping to implement similar changes, as well as the small-scale Showcase events occurring throughout the year.

“So far the feedback has been positive and is allowing students to find the people, information and connections in a more efficient format,” Shealer said. “At the end of the academic year we hope to aggregate student and alumni feedback so that we can assess the new format and determine what, if any, changes remain to be made.”