AUGUST 30, 2021

As students dealt with the pandemic’s many repercussions, HKS alumni stepped up in unprecedented numbers to help them via additional donations and mentoring.

One example of augmented support includes the School’s Alumni-Student Student Career Shadowing Program, which in the 2021 academic year saw a 300 percent increase in alumni-student matches—meaning that more students and alumni than ever participated in this program.

The annual event, which takes place in January between the first and second semesters, was started in 2013. In 2020, before the extent of the pandemic was known, the program was hybrid, with some students meeting their alumni matches in person and others remotely. Last year was all virtual, making it easy for alumni and students to connect across geography and time zones.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to introduce current students to a ‘day in the life’ of a nonprofit executive in a small education nonprofit,” says Erin Sweeney MPP 2007, who is the executive director of Schools That Can Newark, an organization that brings real-world learning into schools in this New Jersey city. “I loved talking with [the student] about the big question all policy folks face: Do you make the most change through direct service or through policy work? I love to also have that connection with current students to feel connected to my alma mater!”




Alumni volunteered to host students (3% increase from FY20)


Students participated


Matches were made (over 300% increase from FY20)


Hassaan Ebrahim MPP 2021 is the student who shadowed Sweeney. “Spending the day with Erin was very helpful in understanding the programmatic side in the nonprofit sector,” he said. “Her authentic and honest reflections helped me understand the many dimensions of her role. I came away from my shadowing experience with a better understanding of the nonprofit education sector.”

Leonardo Beltran MPA/ID 2005 is a board member at Sustainable Energy for All, an international organization that works to drive action on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 7: to provide “affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all” by 2030. He says, “It was a great experience to meet a student definitely interested in tackling one of the greatest challenges the world is facing, climate change. I learned from the student about some of the elements that attract younger generations into this field.”

Whether focusing on education, climate change, or any number of public challenges, HKS alumni stand ready to help students understand the career landscape and make decisions about how and where to put their newfound policy skills to work.