It was just lunch with a friend.
That’s how Katherine Stewart ’14 was approaching it. She was looking forward to catching up with her sorority advisor, Elizabeth Hoffman ’06, L’09—a pair of Syracuse attorneys talking about life and law.
After graduating from Syracuse University with a degree in policy studies from the College of Arts and Sciences and the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs , Stewart earned her law degree at the Brooklyn Law School and joined a practice in New York City. The Rochester native’s desire to be closer to home led her to take a job at a Syracuse law firm.
Stewart was exactly where she wanted to be geographically, but not professionally. “It just wasn’t the right fit,” she says.
As the two friends talked, Hoffman, a partner at the Syracuse-based law firm Costello, Cooney & Fearon, PLLC, mentioned that her boss was looking to hire someone to work on commercial litigation. She introduced Stewart to other partners at the firm, and the rest, as they say, is history.
“I was just looking to reconnect with people I knew in Syracuse to get my feet on the ground, and this lunch conversation led me directly to my dream job,” says Stewart. “I couldn’t be happier; I work directly for the CEO of my law firm, and I have the caliber of work and clients that would typically go to more senior lawyers.”
“I know I got this opportunity because Liz [Hoffman] was able to vouch for my character and my ability to work hard and do a good job,” Stewart says.
Career Resources for Life
“That’s the power of the Syracuse University alumni network in action,” says Jenna Collins G’19, associate director of alumni professional development and outreach in the Office of Alumni Engagement. “It’s exactly what we try to highlight through the many lifelong professional development resources available to alumni.”
Syracuse University alumni are Forever Orange, which means they have access to virtual workshops covering topics like resume development, job search strategies and interviewing skills, networking and career-focused events, one-on-one coaching appointments, and other skill-building opportunities. With the pandemic disrupting so many careers, the alumni engagement team is committed to making sure alumni have the resources they need to be successful.
The centerpiece of those resources is the newly redesigned #HireOrange job board, which launched in January. The website allows Syracuse University alumni to post and browse available job opportunities across a wide variety of industries and locations.
“It’s no secret that alumni look to hire other alumni, whenever they are able,” says Collins. “There’s a certain comfort and trust for prospective employers that comes with knowing your candidate shares a similar education, college experience and professional network.”
“I don’t think a lot of other schools have that alumni base where everyone is so proud. Orange alumni really like to take care of their own,” says Stewart. “In any industry, the alumni connection is second to none.”
Paying It Forward
Stewart landed her dream job thanks to an alumni connection. Now, she enjoys “giving back by paying it forward” and providing advice and guidance to current students and young alumni. “That’s life, right? You want to help people reach their full potential,” she says.
Stewart admits, as a 17- or 18-year-old making her college decision, “I wasn’t thinking I had to go to a place with a powerful alumni base.”
Looking back, she realizes just how valuable that alumni base has been, and just how proud she is to be forever Orange.