Switchboard makes connections for jobs and more

by Daniel Johnson,

  • Kate Steffy speaks with former White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta and Sylvia Panetta, his wife, at a work event.
    In her work as development coordinator for The Commonwealth Club, Kate Steffy ’17, right, met former White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta and his wife, Sylvia Panetta, when they were honored at the club’s 30th Annual Distinguished Citizen Award Gala on April 19, 2018.
  • Kate Steffy speaks with two people on a patio with a waterway and suspension bridge in the background.
    Kate Steffy ’17, left, plans fundraising events for the bipartisan public affairs forum, The Commonwealth Club.

An alumna launches a new career thanks to the free Willamette community resource.

When she started her search for a new career, Kate Steffy ’17 tried the usual job sites without luck. Fortunately, she learned of Willamette’s free online community platform, Switchboard.

The easy-to-use social networking site helps Bearcats connect with each other personally and professionally — whether to find a new job, advertise a house to rent or furniture for sale, look for an internship and much more. Students, alumni, faculty, staff and other members of the Willamette community are welcome to sign up for Switchboard.

Steffy was initially skeptical about Switchboard’s usefulness as a career resource. She didn’t realize that many of the more than 2,500 users share job listings for a variety of careers both in Salem and Portland and farther afield, such as in California, Arizona or New York.

As she scrolled through the site, Steffy found a post by Kayley Abrams ’15 about a job at The Commonwealth Club of California, the nation’s oldest and largest bipartisan public affairs forum. With a bachelor’s degree in civic communication and media, Steffy wanted to work for a civic-minded organization. The Commonwealth Club’s development coordinator position, which plans fundraising events to bring a broad swath of people together around topics across politics, culture and society, seemed an ideal match.

After messaging Abrams through Switchboard, Steffy quickly received a response. Abrams, who had recently vacated the position, offered to forward Steffy’s resume to her former boss. It wasn’t long before Steffy landed an interview, and then, the job.

“On the evening I received the news I got the position, I was elated,” Steffy says. “I contacted Kayley to thank her, as I firmly believe, without her help, I wouldn’t be at The Commonwealth Club today. We still chat every once in a while and exchange ideas. Kayley is an amazingly gracious and generous individual.”

Although the two alumnae overlapped in their time as students at Willamette, they hadn’t met in person until this past spring, when they both happened to be back in Salem. Steffy appreciates that Switchboard made that connection possible.

“Willamette’s sense of community shines through on campus, but once you’re away from daily interactions with Bearcats, it’s harder to make those connections,” Steffy says. “I am grateful my university values and provides a space for alumni to connect and network”

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