After convocation, many students walk across that stage and never look back, but your alma mater is more than where you learned how to play Ultimate Frisbee – it can also be a great job search resource for recent graduates.
Those years that you spent plowing through textbooks, attending lectures and skipping out early to head to the campus pub are shared experiences that connect you to a vast network of alumni.
Here are some ways that university alumni networks can help graduates in their job search:
Connect with fellow alumni online
Staying connected once you leave means more than glancing over those alumni newsletters once in a while. Making the most of your alumni network means networking with grads from a variety of backgrounds.
Sounds like a lot of work, but social media makes it easy. Facebook can be filtered according to school network and most users can be directly messaged. LinkedIn allows for a similar filtering system and, with the click of a profile, you can “get introduced” to an alumnus or alumna in your area of interest.
But before you go spamming any and all users who once walked the same halls as you, American recruiting agency Mcintyre and Youngblood advises job seekers to be strategic with who they “friend.” Reach out to people who are in the same industry that you want to get into or people who worked on the same club as you on campus. Whatever it is, have a solid reason for reaching out.
When e-introducing yourself, don’t immediately ask about whether that person can help you with your job search. “If you only become involved when you need a job, your efforts will seem insincere and people will not be as willing to help you out,” says McIntyre and Youngblood.
Meet your fellow alumni in person
Since you’re no longer on campus, many alumni networks organize events in major cities across the country so former students can get together for a glass of wine and some nostalgia. Similar to when you’re e-connecting with your fellow graduates, when you attend alumni events, be targeted in who you connect with.
When you’re speaking with fellow graduates, don’t make it outright obvious that you’re trying to use them for a job. No one likes being used. Instead, bond over shared experiences that you had at your university. Steer away from the traditional “Hi, how are you?” script and try and get to know them. Comparing stories from the campus pub or survival stories from Bio 1A03 will make a more genuine connection than gunning straight for their job openings and will make them more inclined to help you.
When Tara MacInnis graduated from St. Francis Xavier University, she made a point of staying connected with the school she was leaving behind. “StFX is a pretty small university, and thus has a really strong alumni community,” she says. “The alumni office sends out a quarterly news magazine and semi-regular emails, and there are occasional parties held in cities across Canada for StFX alumni.”
Tara attended one of these events last fall and, at the beginning, the host named some of the notable StFX Toronto alumni who were in attendance, including a former editor of Canadian Living.
Tara was the former editor of the StFX newspaper and a current master’s of journalism student, and she was trying to break into the magazine industry. She recognized this as her opportunity. She made a point of introducing herself to the editor and discovered that she had also worked at the StFX paper. After commiserating over old times at the Xaverian Weekly, the editor put her in touch with the staff at Canadian Living.
A few emails and a resume later, Tara began a four-month internship at the magazine.