Networking Lunch Program Helps Students Find Professional Opportunities

A female student makes the wolf ears sign while standing on a tree-lined sidewalk

This summer, chemistry major Gwen Hopper has been gaining valuable professional experience as a chemical research and development student associate at LORD Corporation, a technology and manufacturing company headquartered in Cary, N.C. And it all started over lunch.

Hopper is just one of the 111 students who have participated in the College of Sciences’ Networking Lunch Program since its launch in spring 2018. The program pairs college alumni with current students to share their professional expertise and answer questions about the workplace.

Mentors commit to taking one group of two to four students per semester to lunch on campus at the mentor’s expense. Students choose a mentor based on profiles the mentors complete that include professional affiliations and brief biographies.

Hopper participated in the program during her junior year. “I thought it would be beneficial to see what chemistry graduates from NC State are doing today,” she said.

Along with two other students, Hopper lunched with Seth Carruthers, director of global technology at LORD Corporation. During their lunch, Carruthers shared experiences from his early life, his time as a chemistry major at NC State, and his career path. “He gave us resume and interview tips and allowed us to ask questions about things that may seem stressful or nerve-wracking to us as undergraduates,” Hopper said.

After the lunch, the two stayed in touch via email, and Carruthers recommended that Hopper apply for his company’s internship program. It was a competitive interview process, but Hopper said that the resume and interviewing tips Carruthers offered during the lunch helped her land her summer position.

“The program allowed me to enhance my communication skills and to personally see the pathways that chemistry offers,” Hopper said. “It was also an opportunity to broaden my connections, and I now have a new contact who will help and support me in my endeavors.”

Carruthers got involved with the program because he knows firsthand the importance of mentoring. “I was excited to give back since so many people helped me,” he said.

“A mentor can distill years of heartache and success into a few minutes of conversation. It just saves so much time and gives the student a competitive advantage.”