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Last year, the magazine Business Insider ranked Dartmouth’s alumni network first in the country. Spending four years in the woods (hyperbolically speaking) produces a connection between students and alma mater unparalleled at larger or more porous institutions where students are lost in the masses or constantly popping between lecture halls and city streets. This summer, I experienced this connection firsthand. Investigating the feasibility of turning my lifelong bibliophilia into a career, I googled “Dartmouth alumni in journalism” to see whether former students had plotted paths usable as inspiration. Dartmouth’s Alumni Magazine had not one but two feature articles, one on Carolyn Kylstra ‘08, editor-in-chief of Conde Nast’s Self, and one on Laura Sim ‘16, associate producer for Crimetown, one of The New York Times’ best new podcasts of 2016. I couldn’t believe my luck. All summer long, listening to podcasts while walking my dog — and brainstorming shows I would like to make myself — had been among my favorite activities.

dog in car
Meet Sherman, my partner in crime for many a podcast.

My curiosity jumped at the idea of pursuing podcasts professionally. That evening, I emailed Laura, crossing my fingers but not thinking she would respond. But respond she did — within minutes. “Sarah! Your note made my day!” she said. “The podcasting world is super small, so everyone knows nearly everybody… I would love to connect you with potential internships at your favorite shows if I can. Here’s my number— would you like to talk tomorrow evening?” I was blown away by her generosity. We talked for an hour and a half, about her current job and favorite podcasts, recent job interviews and nostalgia for FoCo chocolate chip cookies. She advised me, amid no shortage of laughter, on strategies for college internships, majors, and English professors. She seemed one of the nicest and friendliest people I had ever met. The generosity continued. Realizing I lived in the suburbs of New York City, where she lived, she invited me for dinner before I left for fall term. My roommate, visiting from San Francisco, came too. Eating homemade Korean food beneath the fairy lights of her apartment, listening to the rumble of Brooklyn Bridge traffic, we discussed her latest projects, our favorite newspaper articles, and what we loved and wanted to improve about Dartmouth. It was one of my favorite evenings of the whole summer.

two girls before Plaza Hotel
Katrina and I en route to meet Laura (behind us is the Plaza Hotel!)

It’s easy to picture, when “alumni” are mentioned, stodgy, business-suited middle-aged people who blink at you from beneath gray brows. Reality couldn’t be further from the truth. Dartmouth alumni of all ages and career paths are excited to help you find your way, no matter where in the process you might be. While my off-term internship turned out to be in a field besides podcasting (more on that in my next post), my conversations with Laura were invaluable. I hope to visit her — and the possibility of podcasting — as soon as opportunity allows.

Laura Sim '16 in her studio