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Talent is Evenly Distributed. Opportunity is Not.

To level the playing field for underserved student groups, Lafayette is using the PeopleGrove platform to promote career access for students and alumni—starting with career exploration.


Private Liberal Arts


Easton, PA





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Lafayette College has a vision of career access for all—regardless of background or inherited network. “Access is about knowledge, and it’s about opening doors to students in areas where ordinarily those doors might not be open for them,” shared Mike Summers, Associate Vice President for the Gateway Career Center at Lafayette.

The Gateway Career Center serves 2,700 undergraduate students in everything from career exploration to experiential learning. Beyond graduation, the Career Center offers career counseling for alums navigating mid-career transition.

With many job opportunities secured primarily through networks, connecting students and graduates with experienced professionals in the marketplace is table stakes. To support so many people at so many different career junctions, Lafayette looked to leverage its network and bring on a technology partner to meet the needs of its learners.

During the Innovators Conference in August, we sat down with Mike Summers to talk about career access and how Lafayette is leveling the playing field for underserved students.

Exploring career possibilities

Lafayette took its 4-year career development program, Gateway, and renamed the career center with the tagline, “Explore the possibilities. Find your path.” This new branding expanded to the PeopleGrove platform, which Lafayette calls Gateway Link.

“This was very intentional,” Mike shared, “because some students know exactly what they want to do, and some students have absolutely no clue what they want to do when they arrive there.”

Gateway Link allows Lafayette students to identify a major—and to think more expansively about the application of their major. Mike noted that, often, students think narrowly about how their major might apply in the workforce. “When they look on the platform,” said Mike, “they see alumni with the same major and the different types of work they’re doing. It expands what’s possible.”

With this expanded vision of possibilities, students are encouraged to reach out, make connections, and learn more about how their major might apply in the real world.

Networking for people who don’t know how to network

And for students who don’t know how to network, Gateway Link is helping Lafayette teach them to build social capital. 

“Networking can be very intimidating—especially to an 18, 19, and 20-year-old who doesn't have the social capital,” Mike told us. “They don't have that confidence. And so there’s some fear there. If we teach them how to network, the first one's a little bit challenging. The second one's a little easier. Third one's a little easier. And then suddenly, they think, ‘I can do this,’ and confidence builds.”

The platform provides Lafayette students with tips, prompts, and templates that make connecting simple. Pre-formatted templates teach learners how to make a specific ask, and tools like Message Helper offer suggestions on how to sound more professional as learners type.

Engaging alumni to support students

For Lafayette’s alumni, Gateway Link provides an avenue for engagement with their alma mater. 

The team at Lafayette conducted a big alumni study, and found that one of the top two areas alumni believe they should support the institution is by offering career opportunities and experiential learning opportunities to current students. 

“Gateway Link is the platform that allows alumni to support students in a way that works for them,” Mike shared. “We’ve heard very positive things about the response and the generosity of our alumni. And PeopleGrove is the vehicle to make that happen.”


We’ve heard very positive things about the response and the generosity of our alumni. And PeopleGrove is the vehicle to make that happen.
Mike Summers
Associate Vice President
Gateway Career Center, Lafayette College

Helping alumni take their next step

Lafayette offers alumni career services for life. In addition to providing alums with a way to give back, Gateway Link is helping alumni navigate career pivots.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, Lafayette saw an increase in alumni reaching out—not necessarily because of furloughs or layoffs, but because alums were starting to rethink their career choices. They were asking the Gateway team for help connecting to new opportunities and new career paths. Gateway Link became an invaluable resource in helping them do that.

Looking ahead

The team at Gateway Career Center knows that you’re building social capital well past graduation. “You’re connecting and expanding your ecosystem for a lifetime,” Mike said. “It’s continuing to build and build and build.”

But more than building your network, it’s about leveraging that network to open doors and create opportunities for yourself and others. That’s what Gateway Link allows Lafayette students and graduates to do.

“You turn right back around and you give back,” Mike commented. “You leverage your network to help those that are coming behind you. And that’s one of the reasons we chose PeopleGrove as a platform, as a partner. We are in complete alignment with where we want to leverage the platform to help students.”