Plugging into the Hawk Network has been an engaging venture for real estate professional Kathie Carr ’77 and aspiring real estate professional Shannon Brennan ’15.

Plugging into the Hawk Network has been an engaging venture for real estate professional Kathie Carr ’77 and aspiring real estate professional Shannon Brennan ’15.

SJU Students Tapping into Hawk Alumni Network

Alumni clear the path for student networking.

SJU Alumni Association strives to create and maintain a lifelong relationship among its 62,000 members and the University. Many of its members embody the mantra “pay it forward.” Knowing alumni aided them in discerning their individual paths as undergraduates, SJU alumni want to do the same for students coming behind them.

That relationship begins the moment students step foot on Hawk Hill and takes shape through personal and professional mentoring, career shadowing, academic exploration and service opportunities.

A Study in Collaboration

“Jobs matter. Outcomes are why somebody chooses one school over another,” said SJU Assistant Vice President of Alumni Relations Thomas Monaghan. “Alumni who actively recruit students for internships or employment or aid students in getting noticed are furthering the University’s mission in one of the most impactful ways possible.”

When Anthony Nichols Sr. ’67, Joseph Kessler, Esq. ’79 and Dennis Durkin ’74 established the Alumni Association’s Real Estate and Construction (REC) alumni chapter, they shared the vision of a strong mentoring and networking program to aid its members and SJU students. Never wavering, the chapter accomplished its goal. Members connect with each other and students on a regular basis.

REC’s internship committee reached out to its advisory board and about 1,200 SJU alumni who are real estate professionals in the region to inquire about internship openings. Another surge of interest in internship placement was generated by announcing plans at the chapter’s annual Christmas luncheon.

“To accomplish something, you can pull it or push it, but it’s best to do both,” said REC advisory board member Kathie Carr ’77. “After starting with the end user, we’d go back to the Career Development Center to ask for resumes of some of the strongest candidates or to help arrange for professors to announce the openings in class.”

In its first year, this approach yielded 11 internship placements. REC’s method of helping students navigate the job market has been so successful that other alumni affinity chapters have asked for leadership advice.

Thanks to recent work of Haub School of Business Dean Joseph A. DiAngelo Jr., Ed.D. ’70 and others in creating industry-specific courses, the opportunities for Saint Joseph’s students interested in real estate and construction careers are even greater.

Connecting on a Personal Level

Beyond their conversations at REC events are the tactical activities helping graduates land jobs, internships and scholarships. “Real estate people don’t tend to be shy,” said Carr, a broker with a long and successful career in commercial real estate. “I’m of the generation that believes nothing replaces the human touch. If there’s a potential opening, and I can arrange for a shadowing opportunity or help make a connection or get a student’s resume viewed, I do it.

“We understand that who you know is important, so get a card from everyone,” Carr tells students. “Then follow up with a letter and call, just call, just call. You won’t be stalking. Saint Joseph’s alumni are flattered to be asked to help.”

Shannon Brennan ’15, president of the student-run SJU Real Estate Society, which has a “great relationship” with REC, met Carr at a society networking event.

“Kathie connected with me and related well on the difficulties of being a young woman interested in real estate,” Brennan said. “She offered me insight into different career paths involving commercial real estate.”

The relationship blossomed, with Carr introducing Brennan to a number of real estate professionals, one of whom was Harvey M. Levin, president of Keystone Appraisal Company. Following that introduction, Brennan secured an internship wherein she assisted Levin in creating personal and company LinkedIn accounts.

    SJU’s Women’s Leadership Council hosted educational visionary Linda Cliatt-Wayman M.S. ’92 on campus this March for an event series focused on the state of the Philadelphia School District. Wayman, the principal of Philadelphia’s Strawberry Mansion High School, spoke about the future of education at a panel discussion attended by more than 140 students. She also met with faculty and student groups and spoke to two different undergraduate education classes.

The once-a-week internship evolved into Brennan’s creating and planning an entirely new Keystone website. After Brennan was with the company a few months, Levin extended her a summer position helping the company with appraisal-related administrative tasks, in addition to maintaining the company’s web strategy. He offered to pay for her enrollment in real estate classes.

Carr assisted Brennan in securing a $2,500 scholarship from Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Philadelphia, the 150-member local chapter of the industry’s premier business networking organization dedicated to supporting the achievements of women in commercial real estate. 

“Kathie has been one of the most helpful people I have encountered at SJU,” said Brennan. “Kathie is always willing to help students when it comes to networking and developing professional skills. She is always providing amazing networking opportunities to our society and has developed strong student-alumni relationships with many of our members.” 

A property manager at APM Real Estate, Alessandra Corso ’09 met Carr her sophomore year on Hawk Hill. She inaugurated the SJU Real Estate Society as a junior and continues to benefit greatly from Carr’s mentoring, saying that their relationship is a “really important part of my professional life.

“Sometimes it starts over a cup of coffee, with an alumna explaining her day-to-day,” Corso said. “There’s a genuine willingness to get connected, stay involved and support a new generation of Hawks. It’s powerful.”

Pete Davisson ’63 is another REC member working diligently to help students land internships. The founding principal of the commercial real estate firm Jackson Cross Partners has served as a mentor and written many reference letters for SJU students. Davisson offers counsel as students consider career paths in residential and commercial real estate, appraisal, financial analysis and property management.

“The students who ask questions are the best, and how helpful I end up being is often dictated by their level of interest,” he said. “I especially love to work with juniors and seniors so I can give them some idea of what to expect after they walk off the stage with a diploma in their hand.”

Abundant Opportunities for Alumni Involvement

At Saint Joseph’s, alumni involvement is critical to many of the programs that help students begin charting their professional paths. Some examples:

  • Alumni Association’s Mentorship Program – Established in partnership with the Career Development Center, enables alumni and students to join the culture of connection by becoming a mentor or mentee
  • Dinner with Hawks and Dinner with a Doc – Connect students with alumni, parents, faculty, staff and friends of the University, based on professional and personal interests
  • Medical Lecture Series – Connects undergraduates with members of the Medical Alumni Chapter who lecture on their topics of expertise each spring
  • Shadow a Hawk – Provides undergraduates the opportunity to observe alumni for a day to further their understanding about a potential career
  • So You Want to Work in New York? – Offers practical advice from SJU alumni and parents working as executives in New York on how to get (and keep) a job, navigate the transition from campus to post-college life, find an apartment, and more
  • How to Get a Job and Keep It – Hosted by the Women’s Leadership Council, this event connects alumnae with students to discuss strategies to discern their academic or career path, present their best selves, ace their resumes and interviews and develop their personal brands.


– Valerie Asuncion