You’ve probably heard that your alumni network is an invaluable resource for finding a great job or getting your foot in the door at a great company, but has that really sunken in? Many people turn to a plethora of other resources before they consider hitting up their alumni networks, when this may be the first place they should start looking.
An alumni network is an ideal source to start your search because this is where you have access to the individuals who came before you, and who had an experience as close to yours as you can probably get. They lived in the same dorms, were a part of the same organizations, took classes from the same professors – in short, they were in your shoes before you were. Because of this, even if they can’t get you a job, they can give you very valuable advice on where to start looking, or introduce you to the people that can do more for you. They can also warn you against making some of the same mistakes that they did.
Don’t feel awkward about reaching out – given your similar background, alums will likely feel a strong personal connection toward you, and most will love an opportunity to give back to their school. The bottom line is, alums from your school will probably be eager to help you, and you should take advantage of this opportunity.
To track down the appropriate person to speak to, start with your college career center. They will likely have a directory of individuals who are ready to help out. Bear in mind, too, that any person you find in a directory is someone who has probably given permission for students to contact them, and so they won’t be surprised when they receive your call or email.
Another strategy is to look online or turn to alumni chapters in your city if you are already out of college. Again, it’s reasonable to assume that if someone’s contact information is in a directory, then they are fine with you getting in touch with them.
When you finally establish contact with an alum, it’s important to treat them with the respect that anyone else deserves. Remember to be gracious, send thank you notes, and drop them an occasional line to let them know how you are doing and what progress you have made – alums get excited about helping out because they are interested in hearing about the cool things future classes do with their lives!
So go out there and start networking!
The Doostang Team