Saluting the Class of 2016

http://www.fels.upenn.edu/sites/www.fels.upenn.edu/files/Exterior_side_view_Fels_Institute_of_Government_2.jpg?1256151545A couple of years ago, a grad school classmate of mine concocted a crazy idea that for our 10-year reunion (which at the time was two years away), we should collectively avail ourselves to the Class of 2016 as career helpers.  After all, what drew us to Fels and what helped us during and after our studies were people that had gone ahead of us and done all sorts of great things that we also aspired to, and we wanted to "pay forward" the invaluable wisdom and guidance they had offered us when we were trying to figure out life after grad school. 

It quickly occurred to us at the time that the Class of 2016 would be arriving in Philadelphia within months, and so fanciful thoughts gave way to some serious planning.  It's been a challenge since we're all busy and geographically far flung, but we've tried to connect with our classmates (the Class of 2006) and make ourselves collectively available to the Class of 2016 in whatever way we can.  Some of it has been formal - social media, workshops - but the vast majority of it has been informal.  Conversations we had when we were in their shoes continue to shape our professional trajectories, and it's incredible to think that the time we've spent listening, advising, and brainstorming might yield the same fruit in these bright young students' lives too.

This weekend is commencement at Penn.  The headlines will go to Biden and Trump being on site to cheer on family members, or perhaps what Lin-Manuel Miranda will say (or rap?) as the graduation speaker.  But my strongest connection and loudest cheers will be for the tiny Class of 2016 at Fels.  May they go on to do great things all over the world.  And may they one day pay it forward, to the Class of 2026.
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