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michael ricaurte

Viking Connections give students a boost

Haider Ali ’22 was looking for summer undergraduate research opportunities to help make his veterinary school application stand out.

But he was having trouble.

“I had tried emailing other universities in the past, but I would rarely get a meaningful response,” he said.


John Dreixler

Ali contacted Dr. John Dreixler ’83 through Augustana’s Viking Connections program. Dr. Dreixler, a biomedical researcher at the University of Chicago, is one of 45 alumni in different professions eager to share advice.

“Dr. Dreixler specifically advised me to contact the longest-running postdoc and research professors for a more personable response,” Ali said. “In doing so, I was able to find leads and opportunities that could further diversify my experiences for my veterinary school application. Due to the pandemic, I will unfortunately have to wait until next year to apply.”

The Viking Connections alumni counsel students and young alumni on careers, industries, employment trends and organizations within their area of expertise. Here are tips for alumni and for students interested in participating in the program.

Julie Dreixler ’83 is chair of the career development committee of the Alumni Board. She has more than 30 years of experience in the field of human resources. She is the chief human resources officer at Graham Media Group in Chicago.

Julie Dreixler

Julie Dreixler

Dreixler and others worked with Augustana’s CORE office to develop Viking Connections and get it off the ground.

“Alumni are always looking for ways to give back,” she said. “We are interested in connecting with students to answer any questions and provide insight, counsel and connections. There’s a huge network of us out there. All students need to do is reach out.”

Dreixler points out that Viking Connections can lead to mentorships, but it doesn’t have to.

“We’re here to enhance and promote connections and that could be one conversation or more, but sometimes new grads may just want to know the best places to live in a particular city,” she said. “We’re here to help in any way we can.”

Since the program began in March, one student and one recent grad have contacted Dreixler. “I love it,” she said. “It felt great hearing their stories, where they’re headed and knowing that Viking Connections is working.”

Olivia Carroll '20 contacted Dreixler and others in the Chicago area because that is where she wants to work. "Unfortunately, I am still not having any luck finding a job during these tough times, but it is nice to know that people such as Julie are circulating my résumé," she said.

Zubair Ansari

Zubair Ansari

Another member of the Viking Connections team is Zubair Ansari ’00, a hospital executive at Luminis Health in Annapolis, Md.

"I have lived and worked globally and have been able to represent Augie wherever I go,” Ansari said. “I support many causes in education and can help students with résumés and mentor them to jobs across the globe. It’s all about relationships, and I would like to give back to Augustana."

Alumni are encouraged to sign up to participate in the Viking Connections program.

“We want as many careers, fields, geographic areas represented as possible to help our students and new grads," Dreixler said.

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