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KnoXplorations Connects Students with Alumni to Tackle Real-World Business Challenges

Shuchita Poddar '22 works remotely.

Knox College has launched a new program called KnoXplorations, a micro-internship program that connects students with alumni so students can gain real-world experience in exploring career options and enhance their applications for jobs, internships, and graduate programs. 

The Bastian Family Center for Career Success partnered with the Office of Alumni Engagement to reach out to a group of Knox alumni who have volunteered to help students. Perhaps the most important element of KnoXplorations is that students develop a connection with an alum, who can be an excellent resource in expanding their professional network or acting as a reference. "These alumni have often traveled the same Knox path you are traveling," said Scott Crawford, executive director of the career center. “We let the students and alumni work out the details of the projects, which involved design, writing, marketing, and social media consulting in a variety of fields.” 

Shuchita Poddar '22 completed a KnoXplorations project as a digital marketing strategist for Mend Body Professionals with co-owner Casey Gatz '05. “Casey Gatz and I would meet weekly to talk about the progress and what new ideas we have,” she said. “I drafted a social media calendar for one year and organized and planned posts on Instagram and Facebook, keeping in mind the audience’s interest in the particular month.” 

Poddar, a creative writing major, works as a social media assistant in the Office of Communications at Knox, so she had quite a bit of experience in the field already. “I love curating graphics and playing around with words and colors, and the KnoXplorations project gave me complete freedom to do so, which helped me learn more about the different software I use,” she said. “This was one of the many experiences through Knox that I benefited from to hone my creative and organizational skills.”

After completing the project, Poddar was offered a paid position at Mend beginning in January 2021. “Casey and Tara Gatz are terrific people to work with. They give me full freedom to do whatever I wanted in terms of experimenting with colors or posts and were quite flexible and understanding when I told them about the time [zone] difference.” Poddar was living in Gurgaon, India, while working on the KnoXplorations project. 

Another KnoXplorations participant, Frances Santiago '21, noted that her interview with Brian Tanaka '15 was refreshing. “It set the tone for the rest of the project.” Santiago worked in communications at REAL Star Property Management. “It's not always easy to find correlations in what you've learned and real life but through this opportunity, I gained experience in doing just that. It was extremely satisfying to see those skills and concepts actually having application in real life,” said Santiago, who studies business and management. “This has been a great motivator for pushing me to think more critically about what I am learning and daring me to apply them to other situations.”

KnoXplorations is receiving a positive response from alumni, too.

“I was tremendously impressed with our student,” said Kyle Dinse '17, whose startup worked with Rocky Myers '21, a classics major. “They did an exceptional job, and really helped to finalize our art direction for the project,” he said. “The program was a wonderful way to connect Knox students with alumni, and show them different aspects of various alumni projects.”

Dinse hopes that the program will continue to improve. “The project went very well and I was impressed with Rocky being able to pull ideas and concepts from different disciplines. I have come to expect a high level of interdisciplinary cohesion from Knox students, and the KnoXplorations program did an excellent job reinforcing that expectation.”

At this time, KnoXplorations is a pilot program. The career center will be taking the feedback from alumni and students to create a more robust, structured program. If any students or alumni are interested in a future KnoXplorations project, they are welcome to contact the career center at More details on the expanded KnoXplorations program will be announced later in 2021. 

Learn more about career and internship resources at Knox. Winter 2020-21 KnoXploration participants are listed below.

  • Frances Santiago '21, Justina Ndyetabula '21, and Aaryan Dhingra '21 at REAL Star Property Management with Brian Tanaka '15 
  • Shuchita Poddar '22 at Mend Body Professionals with Casey Gatz '05
  • Rocky Myers '21 at Fantasy Board Game Startup with Kyle Dinse '17
  • Neori Yasumaru '22 at Nicole Havelka Consulting with Nicole Havelka '95

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Printed on Saturday, June 22, 2024