My Own Personal Homecoming - 2104

In a training event this week at the massive global marketing company for which I work, I met a fellow alum for the first time who was actually earning his undergrad the same time that I was. Given what we do, Boilers at my salt mine are few and far between.

Turns out, we were both in the Quad at the same time - he even laid his head each night on a pillow in the Tower Suite. As we shared memories of our time in WL, names that hadn't come out of my mouth in decades flowed like water. We were amazed at how many times we crossed paths so many years ago, but never met.

Through him, I saw our company challenges through the lens of someone with a very different role at the far end of our enterprise. Our conversations have already given me a perspective that adds additional color to how I approach my day to day tasks - because I have a clearer understanding of the challenges of his part of the company.

A Purdue education will provide you fine tools with which to build rich and rewarding career. This is the prize that compel all of us who slogged through the cold and snow of a northern Indiana January to a 7am class to keep putting one foot in front of the other. It gives us the opportunity to reach for the brass ring, not the brass ring itself. Every student knows this is the return they seek on the four year investment that they are making in West Lafayette.

What you may not know as an undergraduate is that you are also earning a bonus that won't be found on any diploma or transcript. Simply put, you don't stop being a Boilermaker when you leave West Lafayette.

It is a ticket into a vast and powerful club - Purdue Alumni. Professional networks are incredibly valuable in building your career. Your fellow Boilers can provide an outstanding foundation on which your network can be built. They can introduce you to people, make you aware of jobs, and provide an awareness of ideas, discoveries and trends that you cannot possibly discover on your own.

Like Open Source software, however, it is a community and responsible members of a community give back. Though this sounds like an obligation, it is actually one of the great joys of being a Purdue Ambassador - seeing someone else benefit from your common Boiler connection.

Meeting another fellow Boiler this week was great, but you could argue that since we work for the same company, I would have learned just as much about his role no matter where he schooled. The fact is, we were far more engaged because our common roots formed an instant framework for our bond. As a result, we were far more interested in each others challenges.

Common Boiler roots provide just as powerful a connection regardless of the nature of the relationship. It builds stronger organizations of all forms, from boardrooms to car pools to fantasy football leagues. It provides a connection even where no other possible connection exists, creating new ones and facilitating different paths for you to explore during your time here on the happy side of the grass.

For you students and new grads, leverage these relationships and don't be shy about reaching out to some of us greybeards. In addition to benefiting your career, we have long experience in dealing with the roller coaster of Purdue Fandom, some of us having even received professional medical treatment. Just be tolerant of our ignorance of the next great thing in social media and our penchant to wax on about Purdue athletic greats who played before you were born.

No, I am not an officer in my local alumni association trying to drum up donations. The closest I come to that these days is dropping in at the chosen Purdue Football watering hole here in town and joining my fellow black/gold clad sufferers to watch Hazell rebuild our football fortunes. Being an alumnus is not exclusive to paying dues, carrying a membership card and attending meetings - it is an inalienable right earned by walking across the stage at Hovde. It can be as valuable as the sheepskin (sure wish this wasn't just a metaphor these days) you took home that day.

Use it.

As of this writing, we are tied still for 1st in the race for a B1G title and Rose Bowl berth.

Boiler UP! Crush OMHR.

- slim

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