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Ford School alumni step up to support students during COVID-19 pandemic

April 20, 2020

Ford School alumni across the world are responding to the global pandemic from a variety of public policy angles. They are also looking at how they can help the next generation of leaders dedicated to the public good. 

The coronavirus outbreak has upended the normal winter semester activities at the Ford School. For our students, interaction with professors and peers has changed as classes have moved online. Students face an uncertain job market as they seek and secure summer internships and full-time employment.  Many also are experiencing unique and challenging financial situations. 

In addition to sharing job and internship opportunities, alumni are providing career advice and knowledge during these unprecedented circumstances. Nearly 50 alumni have held 170 virtual office hour appointments with students to share general career advice, conduct mock interviews, and/or provide general encouragement. Others are hosting online alumni-in-residence and employer information sessions.

Steven Reich (MPP '85), who received his degree during the Reagan recession, has been impressed by the quality of conversation with students, and notes they have been mutually beneficial. “I hope my experience can provide reassurance that there is a path forward during uncertain times, even if it's not the same path they were looking at a few months ago,” he said. “The students I've talked to are realistic about the challenges facing them. They have been well-informed and grounded. And yet, they've maintained their enthusiasm.  What has surprised me is that their enthusiasm has improved my outlook, something not easy to do during these dark days.” 

Graduating MPP student, Kristin Prestel spoke to two alumni during office hours and said they “provided advice for my job search strategy and comfort in knowing that the Ford School community truly does stretch beyond the walls of Weill Hall.” 

Many alumni have supported the Ford School’s Student Emergency Fund which provides financial assistance to students with sudden and unique needs such as loss of income or making last-minute travel arrangements to get home during the crisis. 

“We are so incredibly grateful to our alums for their willingness to support our students, to share from their experiences, and to reinforce the power of the Ford School community,” said Dean Michael S. Barr. “They truly are one of the school’s greatest assets.”

The Ford School continues to tap into alumni for their expertise. If you are an alum, you can sign up for office hours with students here: