Leaders of the PAC

19 June 2017

Nikki and SimonSimon Foster and Nikki Sorum, P’16, know talent when they see it. Having served as corporate executives for much of their professional careers, they’ve scoured the globe to connect exceptional employees to a variety of top-flight firms.

It appears that Carleton President Steve Poskanzer has the same eye for talent. When Poskanzer asked Foster and Sorum to join the Parents Advisory Council (PAC) as their daughter Marielle ’16 arrived for her freshman year, Carleton gained a pair of motivated leaders who made a lasting impact on the college’s commitment to career planning. The couple served on PAC for four years, culminating with two years as council cochairs.

The vision for PAC’s career initiative started with previous chairs Laird and Penny McCulloch, P’12, P’15, who established the framework for a more robust externship program through the Career Center. The McCullochs then passed the torch to Foster and Sorum. Increasing parental involvement with externships — a one- to three-week glimpse into a professional field that emphasizes on-site shadowing and networking — offered a “win-win-win for everybody,” Foster says.

The results are tangible: Four years ago, externship numbers through the Career Center hovered around the 30s. For 2016–17, the college offered 215 externships.

“These are some of the brightest kids on the planet, right? Employers would love to have them,” Sorum says. “But that’s the thing about being in college — you might have the talent, but you don’t have the connections yet. Bringing those two sides together has really been the thread throughout our careers.”