Alumni Connections: How to Connect with Former Students
When you are ready to find your first professional job after college, it can be a struggle to know where to start. Finding your first job can be even tougher when you don’t have any connections in the field you are entering. Luckily, you have a natural advantage – you can tap into the alumni network and connect with people who have been in your shoes.
Why Connect with Alumni?
The alumni from your school understand where you have been – the classes you have taken and the professors you learned from. They understand your career preparation better than most, and they can help open key doors during your job search. When you build connections with alumni, they may be able to recommend you for positions or introduce you to people in your field. If you are looking for a professional mentor, your alumni network is your place to start!
How to Connect with Alumni
Your alumni network is the greatest tool in your job-search toolbox. So, how do you meet them?
- Use the Foundation – Both Marshalltown Community College and Ellsworth Community College have a foundation that can connect you with alumni from your field. They can be a resource in helping you make connections during your job search.
- Research on LinkedIn – LinkedIn is the largest professional networking site. When you are job searching you can not only research the company you want to work for, but you can locate alumni who have gone to your school, too. Search your school, and click on “Alumni.” LinkedIn will show you a breakdown of where the alumni live and work. You can narrow the search by year graduated, industry, company, or keyword.
- Get Social – You may be able to connect with more recent alumni by searching social media profiles that list your school. Reach out with a friendly message and ask about their experience there.
- Connect with Instructors – Your professors often keep in touch with students long after graduation. If you are interested in connecting with alumni in your field, consider asking your favorite instructor to introduce you to some of the people they have taught over the years. The alum will be receptive to the warm introduction that the instructor will provide.
What to Say When You Meet
When you meet an alumnus, it may be tempting to dive right in and ask for help with your job search, but that may not be the best approach. Take time and get to know them. Find out what drives them. Ask questions about their overall career path and how they chose the field they went into. Ask them what they have learned over the years, and what they wish they knew when they started out.
When you have established a relationship, talk about who you are and where you want to go professionally. Ask the alumni for a career outlook in the field, and what sort of jobs are available in the field right now. When you feel like you have a solid relationship, ask the alumnus if they would be comfortable referring you for an open position.
Alumni can be a great ally while you are searching for your next job opportunity. Focus on making connections and building relationships, and you will find alumni that are eager to help you find your perfect position!