Former students of Harry Ufland step up to emulate what the late professor gave them every semester; the chance to network with industry professionals. Elise Laplante’s ’13 reason for helping, “was to honor Harry’s memory. Harry was my first mentor in the business and I wanted to celebrate his spirit by helping current students connect with alumni in a meaningful way.” Laplante wasn’t alone in this as she and alumni Winsor Yuan ’12Christy Westad ’17, Ayelet Bick ’12, and Dan Pastewka ’13, coordinated to create a mixer held on April 29th that would host alumni and current students.

Yuan spearheaded the event as, “he did all of the planning in terms of finding the venue, putting together a team to assist with catering, set-up, etc.,” says Westad and, “had a great idea to have more structured mingling through the use of a “speed-dating” set up to help facilitate conversation since it can be awkward to walk up to a stranger and strike up a chat.” Laplante agreed saying, “What made the event unique was really the program that Winsor put together that allowed a real dialogue between current students and alumni.”

The event was held at Pastewka’s Phase Two space in Culver City which allowed mingling in an open area and closed off spaces to connect. Pastewka took great pride in his facility and he could be seen with multiple hats on as he set up chairs and tables, directed parking, mobilized groups of attendees, and helped answer student questions.

Each alum had their reason for stepping up to support this event and when Bick was asked by an attending student what her incentive was she replied, “mentoring the younger generation is important and what motivates me these days. But it is also a way for me to be involved with my community.”

The alumni each sat in on group discussions and helped answer questions from current students, most of which are graduating this Spring. Some of the insight shared by alumni was:

  • Be patient and persistent, the people that succeed in this industry are those that stick with it.
  • Every path is different and there is no one route to success.
  • Constantly re-evaluate what you want to do and the skills you need to hone as you plan your next steps.
  • Know when to stick with a job that is tough versus needing to step away from a situation that has become potentially abusive or destructive to your mental health (it happens!)
  • As often as it is said, there is a lot of truth that starting at an agency or management firm is a great first step.

Students in attendance were very appreciative as they wrote in to the organizers, “I just wanted to thank you for hosting and planning such a wonderful networking event on Sunday. It was so nice to actually sit down and get to know the members of Dodge’s Alumni network.”

From the editor: If you are interested in organizing an event for alumni please contact Jon Hernandez at or 714-997-6795.