How to Work Your Alumni Network to Get A Job
Your alumni network is a valuable place to develop relationships that may lead to future jobs. After all, other people who graduated from your college know you have a good education, and they have a shared experience with you that will set you apart in their minds from other job candidates who didn’t go to your college.
However, even an alumnus isn’t likely to offer you a job on the spot just because you’re from the same school. To really work your alumni network, it’s best to start a relationship first based on your shared college experience. Once an alumnus gets to know you and look on you as a mentee or a friend, it’s more likely you’ll hear about job opportunities from them when you need to. Here are a few tips for finding and building relationships with alumni in your area.
Start a relationship early
If you’re still in traditional or online college, go to your career center and ask to be put in touch with some alumni who are established in the industry you plan to work in. Get in touch to ask for advice—ask them how they got started, what they wish they’d done differently and how they got to be as successful as they are. If they’re in your area, offer to take them to lunch. If you can build a relationship early with some alumni, you may be able to get leads on jobs opening up in their companies.
Go to networking events at school
Whether you’re still in school or have graduated but still live in the area, you should be able to attend alumni networking events held on campus. Your college career center should be able to tell you ahead of time when these events are scheduled, and it’ll give you an opportunity to connect with alumni who may be able to let you know when an opening is available in your field.
Look for opportunities to connect after school
Once you graduate, you can still get in touch with alumni—even if you’ve moved away. Maybe the city you moved to has a lot of graduates from your university—if so, maybe there’s a bar where they regularly meet, or a Meetup group geared specifically toward your school’s graduates. If there isn’t, check with the career center to see if there are any alumni in your field who live in your area. If there’s no regular event bringing them together, start one.
Go to your college reunion
Your college reunion isn’t the place to pass out business cards and give your elevator pitch—but that doesn’t mean you can’t keep your eyes and ears open. Reconnect with old friends, seek out those in your industry and talk shop, and see if you hear about any opportunities. You never know.
Check your college’s business directory
Most colleges have a business directory that lists alumni in different areas and their professions. This should make it easier for you to locate and get in touch with alumni for networking purposes. Use the business directory to get in touch before graduation or start a conversation and possibly meet up for lunch or coffee after college to expand your network.
Subscribe to the college alumni newsletter
Your alumni newsletter should include news and successes of other graduates—some of whom may be in your industry, and may be in a position to hire or alert you to opportunities in their firm. Scan the newsletter on a regular basis, and send a congratulations note to anyone in your industry who’s featured in the newsletter—and something may come of it.
If you’re near your college, get involved in its alumni organization and help plan events, write newsletter articles or volunteer for fundraising drives. If you’re not in your area, start an alumni chapter where you live. This is a great way to get in touch with other alumni—and it might possibly lead to a new job from the contacts you make this way.
Your alumni network is a valuable resource when you’re looking for a job. But as with any networking opportunity, your focus shouldn’t be on what the other person can do for you—it should be on building that relationship. Forge relationships with alumni in your area, and it’s possible you could get your next job from it—or just a new friendship.
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