Don’t you miss the college bubble? When school mattered, but there was plenty of room for other priorities like midnight pizza orders, wearing body glitter, and not having to be anywhere until 1 p.m.? Well, maybe your life doesn’t have much room for those things anymore, but it turns out returning to your college days might actually be beneficial to your job search. Alumni cocktail party, anyone?
Alumni events are a low key and fun way to reconnect with some of the people you went to school with- likely both those you know and those you don’t. Check your school’s website and alumni page to get a list of events offered in your region. Activities often include everything from the aforementioned cocktail parties, to sporting events, to plays and concerts. Enjoy chatting with your old pals, but be sure to bring your business cards as well. Sneak your job search into your conversation (you’re likely not the only one) and keep track of what you learn. It’s a really great opportunity to network- which is so important in this day and age.
If you can’t find an event in your area (or don’t want to attend; I see you curmudgeons out there), try some digital networking on social media platforms or your school’s alumni network. Many colleges and universities now have a searchable online database of alumni. Look for people in your area and field and start a conversation with them. Start with an e-mail and perhaps ask to meet for coffee or lunch sometime. Several of my friends who recently graduated college have made great connections through the alumni association. One is currently doing a business apprenticeship at a bakery in New York City. I don’t know about you, but I am completely sold on the benefits of alumni networks just from this story.
While you’re sending out e-mails, also take a moment to look up your former professors. Probably don’t bother with the ones you only remember as a torso above a lectern, but try contacting the one or two you were really close with. Inquire about their work, list a few of your accomplishments (which are their accomplishments too, in some ways) and then ask if they have any thoughts about where you might look for employment.
In addition to networking, most schools provide more focused career services- even long after you’ve graduated. Contact your school’s career center to see what options are available for alumni. Services may include resume critiques, help with goal setting, and providing a mock interview. Additionally, many schools have a database specifically for students and alumni on the job hunt. For example, my alma mater has HireAHawk, which is a job search platform specifically for University of Iowa grads.
All of these services are great ways to jump start your job search and to reclaim some of your school spirit. I should add that fees for these services will range from free to a few hundred dollars, depending on your school and the services requested. In my opinion, the best bang for your buck will be the alumni association and the job platform… and of course group priced tickets to your favorite concert or sporting event!
How has your alma mater helped you? Leave a comment below or tweet success stories to me: @ithinkther4iamb