This past Monday I had the opportunity to be on a panel of alumnae at my alma mater, Ursuline College. We were talking with a cohort of freshmen students embarking on a year of professional development. Being only three years out of school myself, I was curious how the students would react to my personal experiences. To my delight, their hunger for knowledge, personal growth and new opportunities was invigorating. The opportunity made me think about how important it is to stay connected with your alumni network.
Here are some reasons to stay and/or get connected:
It’s a conversation starter. Talking with professionals out in the field may seem daunting, but not if you already have some common ground to get the conversation moving. Did you have blank professor? Did you study in blank? Did you live in the blank dorm? You will feel comfortable with someone who had similar experiences as a student. How many others can say they attended a Catholic-liberal arts-women’s college? It’s always a fun topic of discussion for myself and fellow Ursuline alums.
It’s a chance to find out what people are really doing with their degrees. Never think you are in silo because of your degree. As an English major, I was frequently asked – why? While I didn’t have a concrete answer at the time, I knew my love for language would help me get to where I needed to go. I firmly believe that the paper I wrote on transcendentalism in poetry continues to help me everyday. Your major is never a limitation. It’s a chance to develop your unique perspective – whatever your passion and future career may be.
Utilizing your alumni base amplifies the power of networking. Alums care about other alums. They will take the time to serve as mentors or just have a conversation with young professionals looking to enter into their field. They may also benefit your business career, helping you meet with vendors, consultants or even customers with whom you share a deeper connection.
What’s the best way to stay connected? Social media – LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, websites – is one easy source (most colleges have accounts specifically for the alumni office). Get in touch with the alumni department because they hold the key to your network; they want to hear from you. You can also get involved with alumni events – volunteer, network, converse, attend – and meet new people.
Overall, the value of your alumni network in professional development is irreplaceable. So, stay connected on that higher level!