Now in its twentieth year, the Magner Career Center and its powerful alumni network continue to launch students into success. Created in 2004 through the vision and financial support of Marge Magner ’69, the co-founder of Brysam Global Partners and the chair of the board of directors of Gannett, the center has helped more than 50,000 students find careers.

The center’s impact is undeniable—and its success is only expanding. Since its founding, the center has disbursed about $4 million in internship stipends to students, hosted job fairs with more than 3,500 employers, and offered more than 1,500 events, including resume workshops, networking nights, career panels, and mentor luncheons.

Brooklyn College President Michelle Anderson (center) poses with guests at the Career Partners and Alumni Champions reception. From left to right: Jenny Yun ’16, private tax manager, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC); Brooklyn College Board of Trustees Member Daniel Menendez ’09; Eliot Tannebaum ’73, Koppelman School of Business advisory council member, and Tommy Tieu ’14, Mid-Atlantic talent acquisition manager at PwC. The event was held at the headquarters of Aon plc, which, along with PwC and KPMG is a “platinum” career partner.

Brooklyn College President Michelle Anderson (center) with guests at the Career Partners and Alumni Champions reception. From left to right: Jenny Yun ’16, private tax manager, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC); Brooklyn College Board of Trustees Member Daniel Menendez ’09; Eliot Tannebaum ’73, Koppelman School of Business advisory council member, and Tommy Tieu ’14, Mid-Atlantic talent acquisition manager at PwC.

The percentage of graduating students who use its services has nearly tripled since its founding. In 2022, the center notably launched the Brooklyn College Career Partners and Alumni Champions programs, which enable employers to invest in students who can benefit from personalized career support.

The center is vital to the college’s efforts to drive students’ upward economic mobility. According to an independent firm’s recent economic impact study, students with a Brooklyn College degree will earn an additional $41,200 annually compared to individuals with a high school diploma. This amounts to about $1.7 million over a lifetime. These substantial financial benefits highlight the significant return on investment a Brooklyn College education provides and the critical role the college plays in advancing social mobility within our communities.

We talked with five Alumni Champions about how the center gave their careers a boost and how they are giving back today.  They are part of an engaged network of alumni who connect students to colleagues in their own companies. Together with the Career Partners Program, the Alumni Champions Program provides a comprehensive platform for corporate leaders and alumni to give back and a way for students to jump-start their careers.

Tiffanie De Gannes ’11

Director, Project Management Office, Ford Foundation

Tiffanie De Gannes ’11

A philanthropic professional, as well as a certified life coach and real estate investor, De Gannes, lived in the New York City foster system until she was adopted at the age of 8. When she went to Brooklyn College as a part-time student working full-time, she chose political science as a major “because I hate math and I love to read and write.”

She found the course material fascinating but had little idea of what to do with a major like political science beyond working for a politician. “It took me time to realize that I could apply it to many jobs in the private as well as the public sector, including nonprofits—in anything that involves reading, writing, and analysis,” she says.

That’s why she’s so excited about working with Magner today. “I see myself as a champion for the humanities at Brooklyn College, so students can hear from someone who looks like them, and who’s also had life challenges like me, that there’s a lot they can do with a humanities major.” Yearly, she sits on panels where Brooklyn College alums talk to students about what they do, to share with them life career options.

And last year, when Magner launched a mentorship program, she eagerly volunteered, mentoring a woman in her mid-50s who’d been in and out of college but was determined to earn her degree.

“We talked weekly and met twice monthly for four months,” she says. “I’d help her outline her papers, and whenever she said, ‘I can’t do this,’ I’d tell her that I’d been there—that, yes, it’s always hard, but quitting isn’t an option, because what does that get you?”

That’s exactly the message she imparts to all the students she works with through Magner. “My mother and my sister both died just before I turned 20 years old, and I went through a hard period of grieving,” she says. “I want to be a beacon of hope for them. I tell them, ‘Stay the course, don’t give up, and life will work itself out.”

Shaina Brander ’14

Vice President, JPMorgan Chase

Shaina Brander ’14

Now a vice president in JPMorgan’s venture capital relationship department, Brander says of the Magner Center: “I have such gratitude to the people there because they helped jump-start my career. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.”

The center helped arrange her first two internships, the first at the New York City Department of Finance and the second at Massey Knakal, a realty broker that was since bought by Cushman & Wakefield. Those, in turn, led to a summer internship at JPMorgan, which played an important role in helping her secure her current job.

“As a college student,” she says, “you come in and you don’t know anything. I didn’t even know what LinkedIn was, but Magner helped me set it up.”

The center also helped her build a resume and practice for job interviews. “They taught me to research the company I was interviewing for and to be specific in my answers to show I wanted that job, not just a job.”

Since graduation, Brander has come back to campus to speak on Magner career panels. Through Magner, she also mentored a student throughout his college career, advising him on strategies to land internships, just as she’d been helped.

“We had a genuine mentor-mentee relationship,” she says. “He was motivated to become a trader after college, which is a tough field to crack into, but in my previous role I worked adjacent to traders, so I was able to give him insights. And he’d come back to me and say, ‘I tried what you said and it worked—I got a meeting with someone.’.”

She’s also helped organize events at JP Morgan just for Brooklyn College students. This fall, she’ll host more students from campus so they can talk to employees about their diverse roles and career paths within the corporation.

Magner, she says, expertly facilitates such connections. “Magner is the most important department at Brooklyn College,” she says. “You go to college to broaden your mind, yes, but most people want to come out with a competitive job at the end of it, and that’s exactly what Magner helps you with.”

Jan-Kristòf Louis-Mansano B.A. ’13, M.S. ’15

Assistant principal, pupil personnel services, Brooklyn Technical High School

Jan-Kristòf Louis-Mansano B.A. ’13, M.S. ’15

Louis-Mansano credits the Magner Career Center with not only helping steer him into his career but actually keeping him at Brooklyn College. After an unhappy stint studying engineering and architecture at Cooper Union, he knew he wanted to be a teacher and had heard that Brooklyn College was a great place to earn an education degree.

But once enrolled, “I had no family I could turn to help me pay for school, and it was looking like I was going to have to go from full-time to part-time,” he says. “Then a school administrator referred me to Magner, which set me up with a stipend as well as a summer job as a camp counselor that helped me pay for school. I even became an assistant director for that camp.” It’s a role he still holds today.

Magner also connected him with a mentor who worked in the New York City public school system and helped him set up his LinkedIn account and prepare his resume. “I’d heard that Brooklyn College was so big that I was just going to be another number,” he says. “But that wasn’t my experience at all because Magner paired me with someone in the educational field to guide me through.”

Since embarking on his career in education, Louis-Mansano has come back to Magner more than once to speak on career panels, “which is a chance to meet Brooklyn College students who ask us what classes we took and where we are in our careers.”

He believes that at its heart Magner is about guidance. “Magner complemented what I was learning in the classroom with what I needed to succeed in the outside world. It teaches and supports us in learning how to be professionals.”

Elliot Tannenbaum ’73

Retired Accountant, Ernst & Young, Morgan Stanley

Elliot Tannenbaum ’73

Attending Brooklyn College in the early 1970s, Elliot Tannenbaum recalls that there was no equivalent to today’s Magner Career Center to assist students in planning their careers.

“We’d hear about interview opportunities for post-graduation careers through a professor and meet the interviewer in the student center,” he recalls, “but there was nobody to help you with resumes or interview skills. ”

Regardless, he interviewed successfully with Arthur Young, the predecessor to Ernst & Young, where he ended up as a senior tax partner. After Ernst & Young, he went to the Morgan Stanley tax department as a managing director, retiring in 2008.

A few years later, when Brooklyn College reached out to alumni asking if they’d be open to career-mentoring students, he jumped at the chance. He ended up mentoring up to 10 students a year. He now estimates that he’s mentored more than 100 students, providing guidance that enabled many of them to obtain positions in accounting.

“In mentoring students, I tell them that the accounting profession has become much more specialized and that they want to have as broad a knowledge of accounting or tax as possible,” he says. When it comes to resumes, he urges them to highlight their key attributes and be prepared to discuss instances where they applied these skills. As for interviews? “I emphasize that they should just be themselves—asking good questions and effectively turning the interview into a discussion.  Doing mock interviews at the Magner Career Center is excellent preparation.”

He greatly appreciates the fact that Brooklyn College is so diverse and how supportive of each other students from different backgrounds are.  He has had the opportunity to work with young people from all over the world—often the first in their families to go to college.

After mentoring a handful of students, it was clear that the accounting majors at Brooklyn College were as good or better than students from other schools being hired by the Big 4 firms. As a result, based on his connections with people at Ernst & Young he was able to advocate for hiring Brooklyn College students. Many of his other mentees were hired by other firms. His belief in Brooklyn College students has been borne out by the fact that these students have gone on to have successful careers, whether at Ernst & Young or other companies.

He routinely champions job candidates, for example, letting a hiring manager at Ernst & Young know how much a young Latina graduate student applied herself at Brooklyn College. The firm believed him and took the young woman on. “She’s now a senior manager there,” he says.

“I probably get at least as much from mentoring as the students do,” he says. He says that, unlike students who go to more elite schools whose parents are often professionals, many of the students at Brooklyn College “have nobody they can ask about careers.”

“It’s satisfying to know I’m making a difference in their lives,” he says. “I have a lot of knowledge about my industry. It’d be a waste if I kept it to myself.”

Beyond giving his time, Tannenbaum also generously donates to the Magner Career Center and the Koppelman Toastmasters Club, causes for which he garners matching funds from Ernst & Young.

Edwin Rivera ’18

Program Manager, Career Pathways, Workforce Development, Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation

Edwin Rivera ’18

Though Edwin Rivera is actively involved with the Magner Center as an employer, he admits that he didn’t use the center when he was a student. He still managed to nab two internships with the Brooklyn Navy Yard while in school. He heard of them through his mother, who worked there for 16 years. “That’s where I learned about time management, how to manage a project, event planning, even something as simple as how to write e-mails or answer phone calls,” he says.

Those internships evolved into his current job managing internships at the Navy Yard, which houses 550 companies employing 12,000 people. His program not only helps interns with their resumes, LinkedIn profiles, and practicing for job interviews, it also matches them to mentors.

And, he says, largely because of the top-notch preparation provided at the Magner Center, “Brooklyn College is by far the school we hire the most students from.” Of the Navy Yard’s summer program alone, he says, about 250 out of 850 applications are from Brooklyn College.

Of Magner, he says, “The great thing about it is that it prepares students well for the opportunities we have here. The resumes are always strong, and the students rarely fail interviews.” He adds, “I always tell them that experience isn’t what we’re looking for because they’re college students, but we need to see school projects and coursework they’ve completed that relate to their major, or that use tech. When I say that, their eyes light up, because they often leave that kind of thing off their resumes. They say, ‘I didn’t know I could add my class projects.’ But they go a long way.”

He says he wishes he had used Magner more when he was a student, even though his career worked out well. “I love the eagerness of the students that come our way from Magner,” he says. “They truly want to find out what we’re looking for.”

Read more about the Magner Center in the Brooklyn College Alumni Magazine