Loeb Center for Career Exploration and Planning
Director Emily Griffen with students in the newly named Loeb Center for Career Exploration and Planning

It’s a Tuesday afternoon in early September and the Career Center is a hive of activity. Staff advisers pop out of their offices to call in students from the lounge. Hadley Heinrich ’17 is manning the peer career advisers desk, which bears a small plaque with her name.

Less than an hour into her shift, Heinrich has already counseled three underclassmen on their resumes and cover letters. She speaks quietly but firmly, drawing students into the process and giving them a foundation from which to build: change tone here, add references there, cut back on this section, expand that one.

 “Every student comes in with so much stress,” she says. They want to know right away: what should they do with their lives? The center, Heinrich says, “is a good environment to take a step back. You don’t need to have results within the next few seconds.”

Heinrich is just one example of how Amherst’s Career Center is recreating itself as a hub of information and as a place for alumni, students, faculty and staff to connect with one another. That effort got a boost this week with the announcement that Marjorie and Michael R. Loeb ’77 had made a seven-figure commitment to expand the center’s offerings.

Emily Griffen, director of the newly named Loeb Center for Career Exploration and Planning, says the gift comes at a key moment, as the center expands its capacity to help students clarify their interests, build their skills, develop networks of professional contacts and transition smoothly into post-Amherst opportunities. While the center doesn’t train students for a specific career, it does help them pull together what can seem like wildly disparate skills and present them in a way that’s directly relevant to the workplace, Griffen says.

“With our career preparation, I want to mirror the open curriculum and the liberal arts philosophy” of the college, Griffen says. “I want students to really have an understanding of why the liberal arts education they get here gives them unbelievable opportunities and is an asset for them in the professional world.”

Loeb Center for Career Exploration and Planning
Health Professions Advisor/Assistant Dean of Student Richard Aronson '69 works with a student in the Loeb Center for Career Exploration and Planning.

Staff at the center counsel students in seven main areas: business and finance, education professions, health professions, science and technology, government and nonprofit, arts and communication, and law. Other offerings, such as the Pathways Alumni-Student Mentoring Program, provide mentoring opportunities, while the Amherst Select Internship Program matches students with summer placements, and the Career Trek program offers multi-day, deep-dive expeditions into various professional fields.

As a sophomore, Heinrich was convinced by a peer career adviser to approach what she regarded as the “scary yellow building across the street.” Since then, she’s come to regard the center as a critical facet to her education, one that helped her land an internship in historic restoration in Alaska and a volunteer position in Peru, and that connected her to an alumna mentor, who helped her overcome her reluctance to network.

“I’m constantly exploring what I want to do after school,” Heinrich says. “I’m still learning a lot, but I feel more confident. It just gets better and better.”

For Michael Loeb, supporting the center is his way of “paying it backwards.” Loeb, a private investor focused on disruptive business models, is the founder and CEO of Loeb Enterprises and Loeb.nyc.

Loeb has volunteered for Amherst as an associate class agent and alumni admission adviser. He has partnered with the Career Center through the Amherst Select Internship Program, has served as a keynote speaker at the College’s 2014 Business Leadership Seminar and has hosted numerous events with Marjorie at their Manhattan home, including a finance networking event in June.

“As someone who hires many new college graduates each year, I want to ensure that Amherst has a best-of-breed ability to develop student career aspirations and professional opportunities. In an intensely competitive world, this has never been more important,” Loeb says. “Our goal is to make the Center an invaluable resource to help shape and focus the career aspirations of Amherst's brilliant and supremely talented students, whatever career path they choose.”