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As Seen in The Bulletin
Vol. 106 No. 2
43rd and Woodland: Podcast is Connecting Alumni and Students
It was a desire to experiment that led to 43rd and Woodland, a podcast curated to help students and alumni navigate career and life. The alumni behind this effort, SEAN AHERN PharmD’19 and JARED HUNTER HumSci‘16, wanted this project to embody everything USciences represents by accessing the greater alumni community.
From career advice, tips about finances and student loans, to highlighting leadership skills, the duo aims to share inspiring stories. Following a warm reception from fellow alumni and students, the podcast has quickly become a way to link alumni who otherwise would not cross paths.
“We had the confidence to get started but knowing we have the support from the University is something we are really grateful for,” said Hunter. “It is reinforcement that any USciences alumnus has the ability to contribute in some way.”
“Our conversations led to offering alumni and students something tangible. It made sense at that moment to consider a podcast,” said Dr. Ahern. “It was a no-brainer because of the chemistry we already had together from our time as students. We thought a podcast was a trendy way to capture alumni interests.”
Hunter and Dr. Ahern met for the first time in 2013 when Hunter was assigned as Dr. Ahern’s residential advisor in Goodman Hall. While Dr. Ahern and Hunter stayed in touch now and then after Hunter graduated in 2016, they reunited for the first time in years at the Young Professionals Organization’s (YPO) kick-off meeting in January 2019.
YPO is an affinity group affiliated with the University's alumni office. The organization is committed to helping recent graduates and students in the early stages of their careers. The organization made it a priority to create a digital space for peer-to-peer engagement. With this in mind, Dr. Ahern and Hunter began to explore ideas on how to curate content centered around the YPO mission.
“We first thought of something to acknowledge our days in Goodman and our other favorite spots on campus like the quad,” said Dr. Ahern. “We had to sit back and consider the student experience, and then it clicked. 43rd and Woodland is the intersection that connects us to campus. It’s where we walk on and off campus to class and our homes and it’s a hang out for students because of the food trucks. On any given day, there are always students making memories and conversations there.”
The format of the podcast is positioned to fit into a busy lifestyle, whether in the office or on a commute. Trips back to campus are not always an option for those living out-of-state or out on rotations in their professional years, and a podcast is convenient for most. The goal is for alumni and students to maintain their connection to the university and to each other no matter where they are.
Research shows most podcast listeners are between the ages of 25 and 44. And nearly 45 percent of USciences alumni are in that age group.
In each episode, listeners hear from individuals who provide expertise on various professional and personal development topics.
The series began in October 2019 with SAMARTH PARIKH PharmD’15 who offered insights on the leadership skills he has gained in the workplace and how he applies them to his career development at Janssen Pharmaceuticals.
“We are both fresh into this adulting stage of our lives and our thinking behind the topics we’ve covered so far is based on our own experiences. If we have questions, we know our peers do too and it is our goal to provide those answers to the USciences community,” Hunter said.
In a two-part series onmoney management, alumna FIONA BARDHI Psy’16 opens up about her experience managing her own finances while she worked through the government shutdown in 2019. She shares the lessons she learned from navigating through difficult circumstances. The shutdown required a shift in Bardhi’s mindset when it came to spending. She focused on being proactive rather than reactive and found creative alternatives from apps that offer cash-back on purchases and additional ways to earn revenue from online surveys to selling old artwork. In part two, students and alumni learn about setting up a plan for financial success both now and in the future.
In a recent episode, JENNA KWIECINSKI BMS’20, HumSci’20, JOHNSON LAM DPT'20, and TOM GREGORITIS PhB'20 spotlight the student experience and discuss how their time at the University prepared them to begin their careers.
“Reflecting on my experiences with my peers as I approach graduation was bittersweet and the podcast made me recognize and appreciate all of the opportunities that USciences has offered me,” Kwiecinski said. “I hope that my involvement shows alumni how great USciences continues to be and how the university continues to support its students.”
The Office of Alumni Relations is shifting its focus to incorporate more digital engagement and digital content. Efforts like 43rd and Woodland have the power to transform how USciences graduates connect with the university moving forward. CASEY RYAN, Director of Alumni Relations said, “we feel fortunate for Sean and Jared’s willingness to use their voices to engage the greater community. I enjoy hearing the pride that their alumni guests have for the education they received here.”
The podcast is just the beginning of what USciences YPO hopes to accomplish.
“This is just one component of a major effort to engage and connect USciences alumni across the country,” added Hunter. “ The podcast plays an important role because the work YPO aims to do is important. Whatever we do to contribute to that vehicle is our driving force.”
43rd and Woodland is available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Anchor.
Categories: News, Alumni, Misher College of Arts and Sciences, Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, Feature Story,