September 18, 2018 at 1:22 pm

Alumni News | Dave Levy Found a Structured Way to Coach, Advise Arts & Sciences Students

David Levy, portrait

David Levy, Photo by Kevin Fitzsimons

Ohio University alum Dave Levy ’78 always wanted to help current students find their path to success. Like many alumni, though, he was unsure how to make the best use of his skills and forge a meaningful bond with students.

“I hope it doesn’t sound boastful to say that I always thought I had something to offer students, but that is the case. Where I was uneasy was in how much I could offer, and in what ways. I held the notion that I had to have great expertise in an area in order to be able to be of any use, and that left me feeling extremely limited in how I could contribute, and where,”  he says.

Levy notes that two experiences helped him to overcome those perceived limitations—talking one-on-one with students at OHIO events, and partnering with OHIO staff to learn more about students’ needs and opportunities for alumni engagement.

Talking with Students in Casual Settings

When Dave and his wife, Cathy, began to attend campus events, including donor recognition gatherings, they found that one benefit of their attendance was the increased frequency with which they met and talked with students in relaxed, casual settings.

“What I quickly learned was that if I asked questions, such as what their goals were, and listened to what they had to say, it wasn’t long before there was an exchange that took place that had some depth to it,” Levy notes. “We found common interests, experiences, or problems that led to opportunities to share some relevant advice. Sometimes it was I who walked away with something new. It was immediately very rewarding, and a lot of fun.”

Levy encourages other OHIO alumni to give of their time and wisdom by working with current students and truly listening to what students need.

“The key is to ask lots of questions about the student’s degree program, why they chose it, what they want out of it, what do they like best, what scares them, and on and on. Most students will open right up when you ask. Focus on them. If you listen to what they have to say, it becomes pretty easy to see where you might be able to help them,” he adds.

A More Structured Role

Levy explains that working with people like Lisa Cohen, the College of Arts & Sciences’ Director of External Relations, also helped him overcome his concerns about guiding and advising current students.

Before talking with Cohen about how he might best use his experience to help students, Levy found his interactions with students “informal and casual.” He notes that at first, “the thought of a more structured and formal setting brought back the worry about being knowledgeable enough to be able to meaningfully help, and to not embarrass myself!”

However, connecting with OHIO staff like Cohen helped Levy determine where his talents and skills could be put to the best use.

He met with students and provided invaluable résumé review assistance at the College of Arts & Sciences Career and Networking Event in January 2018. Levy notes that the Career and Networking week, which features a series of workshops, panels, and other opportunities for alumni-student interaction, is an ideal way for alumni to give back to OHIO and build rapport with students.

“Lisa removed that concern by working to put me where I could best fit in. A small leap of faith was all it took,” Levy notes.

Levy also serves on the Ohio University Foundation Board and is a Career and Leadership Development Center volunteer.

‘Incredibly Rewarding and Energizing’

When asked how working with students has affected him, Levy states that his volunteerism “has been a classic case of getting more out of it than you put into it.” He explains that he finds his work with students “incredibly rewarding and energizing,” and that it is an honor to know he has made a difference in a student’s life, helped solve a problem, or provided valuable career guidance.

“That makes you want to get that feeling again, which means you look for the next chance to volunteer. There have been people in every phase of my life who have coached me and advised me, and I benefited tremendously from their experience and their interest in me. If I can do the same for someone else, how could I pass up that?”

In conjunction with OHIO’s Career and Leadership Development Center, the College of Arts & Sciences hosts its third annual Arts & Sciences Career and Networking Week from Jan. 28 through Feb. 1, 2019. The Alumni-Student Networking event takes place on Thursday, Jan. 31, with Résumé Review at 3 p.m. and the Networking Reception from 4:30 until 7:00 p.m.

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