Last week’s Oberlin Switchboard party was something special. We not only had an incredible turnout, a great location, and free flowing beer and food, but were also joined by Switchboard’s CEO, Mara Zepeda. After falling in love with Oberlin during my campus visit, I was confident that a gathering of Obies would impress her as much as they had impressed me. And sure enough, more than 25 Obies joined us at the lower east side’s Hill & Dale for pitchers of beer, fresh oysters and celebration and nearly knocked our socks off with how awesome they all were.
With over 40 years between the oldest and the youngest alumni, the range of experience and interest in the room was almost dizzying. There were Japanese cooks and restaurateurs, international publishers, real estate agents, programmers, radio journalists, political organizers, entrepreneurs and even the future president of the United States. There were experienced Switchboard askers and offerers, success loggers, helpful commenters and total newbies. Our happy hour celebration perfectly encapsulated the dream of Switchboard, to bring members of the Oberlin community, all ages, interests, skills, and experiences, together in one space to share and connect.
The overwhelming consensus seems to be that Obies don’t just aspire, they do. From talking to them in person and from watching them connect on Switchboard, I have come to add another important quality to their reputation. Obies are unbelievably helpful. In the last week alone I met so many warm, generous and active alumni and a couple of cases really stood out:
Kristen ‘04 asked the Switchboard for help with her new fashion company and was directed to Oberlin’s own small business accelerator, Launch U. Switchboard helping Obies help Obies start companies! I love it.
I met another young Obie at the happy hour who had chimed into the now famous “law school post” to share her insight, taking the opportunity to add her voice to the 16+ person conversation about the merits (or demerits) of law school. Just going to show that every bit of help helps!
During the week, I met with Evan ‘14 who found his current internship at Columbia’s School of Journalism through the father of another Obie. We absolutely love when parents can be part of the network.
The Oberlin Switchboard may have only been around for a few short months but the Oberlin community gets it like it was what they were born to do. From its first breath, the Switchboard has been a thriving hub for compassion and connection across generations, time-zones and disciplines. We couldn’t have been more grateful to cap our Switchboard Hearts tour with a final party for the Oberlin community!