Big cities boast clubs to welcome alums new & old

by David Archwamety | 6/9/02 5:00am

The presence of Dartmouth alumni clubs in almost every part of the country -- especially in cities -- proves that the Dartmouth experience lasts for more than four years.

Metro clubs, such as the Dartmouth Clubs in New York, Boston and Los Angeles, teem with alumni who, after spending four years in the woods of New Hampshire, are ready for big-city life. Many Dartmouth grads are attracted by the metropolitan business opportunities offered to those interested in paying off college loans or pursuing careers in the financial world.

The clubs hold regular events for their eclectic membership, which includes alumni of the College and its graduate schools, current students and close relatives of alumni. Simple club gatherings as well as recreational events like trips to baseball games and concerts remind alumni of what it means to be part of the Dartmouth community.

Attending educational events -- often led by Dartmouth professors who conduct seminars for alumni -- and conducting applicant interviews are other ways in which alumni clubs extend the College experience.

When a senior graduates and moves to a big city, he or she is automatically eligible to join the Dartmouth alumni club in that area. There are small yearly fees, but in most cases those fees are optional. Sometimes an alum may be automatically registered in the club, as is the case for alums who move to Boston.

Due to its proximity to the College, the Boston club is the largest and oldest Dartmouth alumni club. The organization consists of members from Boston and most of eastern Massachusetts, and boasts over 7,000 members. Most of the members are employed in business and law.

Andrea Lorden '86, past President of the Boston alumni club, said she enjoys seeing the contact between alumni in Boston.

"I think that the Dartmouth family is a fun group to be with. We are all over the place in Boston. Whether you can attend an event, or do an alumni interview, it's a nice way to stay in touch with the College." Lorden noted that the most popular alumni club event in Boston is the Harvard-Dartmouth football game.

Another populous alumni club is in New York City, which has a unique building. The Dartmouth club, along with the University of Virginia club, is located in the 22-story Yale club, adjacent to Grand Central Station.

Use of the club's facilities, which include several restaurants and a gym, is limited to members and costs around $400 per year.

The approximately 5,000 Dartmouth graduates in New York who are not members of the Dartmouth club house are still members of the Dartmouth Alumni Association of New York, and still receive the newsletters.

Like the Boston club, the New York club is geared towards the preservation of the Dartmouth spirit. Bruce Eaken '60, President of the New York alumni association, said the club's purpose is "to engage the Dartmouth graduates in the area with programs and activities so that Dartmouth remains in their minds."

One of these activities is a night when graduates gather in Central Park to enjoy the music of the New York Philharmonic. Alums also participate in outdoor adventures such as canoeing down the Bronx River.

A strong alumni club on the opposite coast is the club in Los Angeles. Most of its 2,100 members work in the medical, legal, and or film industry of Hollywood. Typical of California culture, West Coast alums enjoy wine tastings and first-run movie screenings.

Craig Douglass '78, president of the Los Angeles alumni club, said that the club's purpose is "to bring the torch of Hanover to Los Angeles with respect to faculty visits, alumni seminars, young alumni events, Dartmouth family events and outdoor events."

Like its eastern counterparts, the Los Angeles club also conducts alumni interviews, performs community service and offers scholarships to current Dartmouth students.

New graduates moving to big cities may seek out new alumni friends for support, while others turn to alumni with whom they have shared years of undergraduate experience.

Elizabeth McKeon '02, who is going to New York next year, said she doesn't plan to seek out people she doesn't know simply because they are Dartmouth alumni. Nevertheless, she intends to keep in touch with alumni she knew while at the college.

Jonathan Altman '02 will move to Boston to work for the consulting firm where he interned during his junior summer. He originally found out about the internship from Dartmouth alumni contacts.

Altman said he also plans to stay close to his friends from college. "I'm definitely going to stay in touch with some people who are moving there along with me," he said.

Yanlin Liu '02 said the alumni connection is important to her, but she doesn't plan to actively seeking out other alumni next year through the New York City club.

"I found that through corporate recruiting, many of the companies have recruiters that are Dartmouth graduates, and they like establishing a connection that way. It's also helpful to have a Dartmouth alum sort of as an ally and as someone who can explain your education to the other recruiters," Liu said.

During her internship in Hong Kong, an unfamiliar city for Liu, she said she found the alumni connection very helpful. However, she said she does not feel the same urgency to actively meet other alums in New York because it is an environment in which she is much more comfortable.

"In terms of being in New York, I think you almost take the alumni connection for granted because there are just a lot of alums who settle there," Liu said.

Like Altman, Xander Harris '02 said he found the alumni connection very helpful in locating his job. Next year he will work in a firm with several other Dartmouth grads.

"The more competitive the jobs are, the more helpful the alums are in helping you get them," Harris said, stressing that the alumni network is most helpful when a student approaches it in a professional manner.

"The network has to be treated with a lot of respect. A lot of students make the mistake of being unprofessional, so they waste the resource," Harris warned. For right now, Harris said the social aspect of the alumni network is most important. Nevertheless, he said he will always keep in mind the professional help it can offer.

"At this point, it's more important just to stay in touch with friends who have graduated. But if I make a career more, the alumni network will become important to me once again."

Should an alum be without a job, alumni clubs offer members a range of job search services. Rex Morey '99, Young Alumni Chairperson of the Boston club, said there is a job development chair in the Boston club.

"[The chair] maintains a database of local alums who have agreed to talk to other alums about their companies and industries.

It's not necessarily to get them a job, but to get them a foot in the door -- tell them what it's like to work in the industry or company," Morey said.

Similarly, the Los Angeles alumni club has a job representative and maintains job banks. The New York club conducts about two career seminars a year for alumni.

Many new alumni are often too busy to become involved with the clubs, but they are always welcome to at anytime down the road.Lorden said that although many Boston members partake in club activities, it can be hard to juggle club activities for some families.

"We have a lot of retirees who come to seminars. There's also a lot of young professionals. Probably the smallest constituency at this point is people with young families, because they don't have as much time."

One year, the Los Angeles club members got more than they bargained for at their annual sailing event.

According to Douglass, the members on board were partaking in green machines -- a "tradition of Dartmouth" consisting of limeade, lime sherbet and vodka. But the 60-foot boat was rocked by 30-mile-an-hour winds, and as a result, "everybody on board lost their green machines."