Seventy percent of jobs are found through networking, according to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Whether you’re searching for an internship or trying to land your first job, your network is your best resource for finding opportunities.
A great way to amp up your networking efforts? Take advantage of your alumni networks and enlist an alumni mentor. Alumni are an excellent resource during your job search because you already have a common interest established — you both graduated from the same school. And an alumni mentor can serve as a resource during your job search and a guide to your industry.
Here are some tips to kick off your search for your alumni mentor:
1. Search your university’s career website
Nearly every college or university has a career website that contains a database of employers and alumni. For example, colleges and universities such as American University, University of Michigan, and UCLA have alumni mentoring programs within their career websites that connect college students and job seekers with alumni.
You can search your school’s career site based on career interests and industries. This can lead you to connections with alumni working in similar fields as you.
2. Use LinkedIn to your advantage
LinkedIn is another awesome resource for finding an alumni mentor. Most universities have an alumni group established for students. In addition, you can probably find specific alumni groups depending on your major, industry, or geographical area.
For example, if you’re a graduate of your marketing program, look for alumni groups within this department on LinkedIn. Chances are you’ll find a LinkedIn group specifically for marketing alumni of your college or professional organizations related to your major.
3. Send networking emails
After you’ve done some research and located a few professionals you’d like to contact about mentorship, it’s time to send some emails.
When writing networking emails, be genuine, concise, and considerate with your message. Remember, some of these individuals are very busy, so you want to write an email that gets read.
In your email, explain how you’re an alum of the same school with a degree in a similar career path. After you establish the connection, explain that you’d like to ask a few questions about their experience.
4. Schedule a meeting
During your conversations with alumni, make sure to request to meet in-person or chat over the phone. This is your opportunity to pick the alum’s brain and establish a genuine connection.
Once you’re ready to chat with an alum of your program, here are some good questions to ask:
- What do you like/dislike about your job and why?
- How did you decide this was the right field for you?
- How did you get noticed by employers during your entry-level job search?
- What are some related jobs I should research?
Finding an alumni mentor is one of the best things you can do for your career. Not only is this person a great resource for advice and tips, but they can also be easily located. Hopefully these tips will help you find you an alumni who can take your career to the next level.
Do you have an alumni mentor? How did you develop the relationship?
About the author: Val Matta is the vice president of business development at CareerShift, a comprehensive job hunting and career management solution for companies, outplacement firms, job seekers and university career centers. Connect with Val and CareerShift onLinkedIn.