Students and alumni sitting around a table laughing.

Alumni/Student Mixer Builds Yellow Jacket Network

Alumni/Student Mixer Builds Yellow Jacket Network

Wes McRae | March 25th, 2024 – Atlanta, GA

The Student Planning Association (SPA) gathered School of City and Regional Planning (SCaRP) alumni and students for an informal mixer recently, fostering ties between current and former students.

Claire Breeden, SPA president, said that previous networking events students attended had suffered from an awkward introduction period. "We wanted to provide attendees with a relaxed but structured experience," Breeden said. "We hoped to make introductions less intimidating by creating conversation tables." 

Students and alumni around a table, talking and laughing. A sign on the table reads, "Urban Design and Land Use."

Each conversation table had icebreaker questions centered around a particular planning topic. After fifteen minutes on a particular topic, participants changed tables to meet new people and explore different topics.

"This helped us pair alumni with current students and make initial introductions easier," Breeden said.

People sitting around a table, eating and talking

After the introduction conversations, alumni and students had additional unstructured time for mingling and additional conversations. "The informal setting allows the conversation to wander, and topics of individual interest can emerge," said Jennifer Ball, chief operating officer for Central Atlanta Progress in  Atlanta Dowtown.  

"A social setting can also be disarming and more comfortable for some to engage new connections."

Three people in conversation

Strong connections between students and alumni benefit both groups, Ball said. "I have consistently benefited from the camaraderie and knowledge-sharing among my Georgia Tech network," she said. "Fellow Yellow Jackets have always been quick to lend their support to projects, make a helpful introduction, or weigh in on tricky problem." 

"Staying connected with SCaRP strengthens those bonds and allows me to contribute and pay it forward in the same way."

Students and alumni standing, having a conversation

"Hearing from past students about their experience in the program and what they have achieved after graduation was informative and exciting," Breeden said. "The range of roles alumni have held was inspiring and helped current students see the various opportunities upon graduation."

"It was also fun to discuss Atlanta's top planning projects with those who know best!"

Students and alumni around a table, talking and gesturing

"The most interesting conversations centered around the prompted question of which Atlanta-based planning event people were most interested in," Breeden said.

Ball agreed. "I did end up in a lively discussion about current transit planning in Atlanta and the merits or drawbacks of light rail on the Atlanta Beltline.  A hot topic these days!"

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