How to leverage your alumni network
Improve your chances of landing a great job after graduation by reaching out to those who've shared your experiences at school: your alumni network.
How to Meet Alumni
Check out your school's alumni association homepage. This site lists upcoming events open to current students, where you can introduce yourself to alums. You should also be able to find career-specific groups you can join or contact, information on how to get in touch with alumni willing to communicate with students, and job boards targeted at your university community.
How to Use Your Alumni Network to Get a Job
If possible, make an appointment at the campus office of alumni relations or career services. There you can get personalized advice on how to best use your alumni network to get a job or achieve professional goals.
Here are some general rules of thumb about how to approach alumni and what you can expect from them:
- Ask for information and advice, not a job, internship or favor
- Be professional and polite
- Expect alumni to provide insight into what skills their job requires and how to prepare yourself for a career in their field. They might also introduce you to other contacts
- Send a note or call to thank them for their help
Finally, tap into your alumni network early in your college career. This gives you time to forge meaningful relationships before you are ready to start your career, at which time you might get a job through an alum you've befriended
Tim Mullaney currently teaches analytical and fiction writing at Washington University in St. Louis. His recognitions include the Salamander Magazine Prize and the Gival Press Short Story Award. He is a former Van Lier Fellow at the Asian American Writers' Workshop in New York City.