Dinner with Eight Bears launched in 2018 to provide informal networking opportunities for students. These alumni/friend-hosted events were an immediate hit with hosts and students alike. Enter the pandemic and Dinner with Eight Bears (DW8Bs) went virtual to ensure the safety of participants. The modified format proved to be a win-win for all involved, allowing anyone to “pull a chair up to the table” from any location.
So, what is it like to meet students for meaningful conversations on a virtual platform? Derrick Docket learned the answer when he hosted a virtual Dinner with Eight Bears.
Alumnus Derrick Docket, ’02, chief communications officer for the Wentzville, Missouri School District, connected with students and shared his wisdom with soon-to-be alumni. Topics of discussion included job searching, transitioning from college life to a career and using social media for networking.
“For the most part, the students were pretty engaged in the discussions, but I did have to make sure to keep everyone involved. Once our conversations were moving, they all seemed comfortable talking without me having to prompt them,” Docket reported.
McKenzie Burtrum is an exercise and movement science major who will graduate in May 2021. She attended Derrick’s dinner because she had heard great things about Derrick. When asked how this alumni to student engagement impacted her college experience, McKenzie had this to say:
“Derrick really encouraged us to share our best and worst experiences, and I thought that was wonderful. Most people only want to hear the good things about your college experience, but Derrick wanted to know what needs to be improved and tried to help us with those bad situations/experiences. Derrick was an awesome host, and I look forward to meeting more alumni like him in the future!”
Docket expressed that the reward he received was that he, “enjoyed hearing the perspectives of students – of what life is like for them as they prepare to enter the workforce and the challenges they face trying to find a career.”
Hosting another dinner is definitely in Docket’s future. He’s ready to share his real-world successes and encourage more soon-to-be alumni, who will be Bears for life, just like Derrick Docket.
You can host a Dinner with Eight Bears, too! Register now through March 3 to host a Spring 2021 event between April 5-19. Share your professional expertise, provide insights of a particular profession or moderate a discussion relatable to today’s students. Find out what to expect and how to make the most of a DW8Bs – the investment is minimal and the reward is priceless.