Creative Ways to Use Your Alma Mater for Professional Networking
When trying to obtain gainful employment, getting a foot in the door often presents a challenge for job seekers. One effective way to get this “in” is to create a professional network. These networks aren’t your regularly obtained hosting networks, but a network of people and by talking to people who are already established in the industry into which they seek to break, these job hunters can improve their chances of getting that all-important job interview and, ultimately, obtaining a job. When creating this network, job seekers shouldn’t try to distance themselves from the institutions of higher education from which they matriculated. Instead, they should take full advantage of the career-building potential that using their connections to their alma maters provides.
Take Advantage of Career Services
Many colleges and universities offer career placement services. Often, these placement offices hold job fairs at which students who are soon to graduate — or those who have recently graduated — can sit down with employers in the industries in which these soon-to-be-former students are seeking employment. New-to-the-workforce job seekers should never pass up an opportunity to attend a potentially career-starting function such as this one, as the hiring officials that come to these job fairs often do so ready to hire new grads from the university at which the event is hosted.
Attend Alma Mater Functions
Many institutions of higher education attempt to keep alumni involved in the school community by organizing alumni associations or putting on events for former students. By attending these, job seekers can network with others who have allegiance to the college or university in question. The bonds formed at these events could prove useful in obtaining employment as individuals who job-seeking graduates meet at these events may later consider them for employment.
Display School Pride
It’s wise for graduates to display school pride when networking, at least in a discrete fashion. If a job-seeker attends an event wearing a small lapel pin that represents the university from which he graduated, he may improve his chances of making a lasting impression. A hiring manager or someone else in the office may spot this spirit item and, if that someone has an affinity for or allegiance to that university, it may spark a conversation. The key to displaying school pride effectively when networking is being discrete, as job seekers will likely not impress anyone with an excessively overt display such as a painted face or school-spirited sweatshirt.
Show Community Involvement
In addition to showing school spirit, it’s great if you can show you were involved in your community or at least took the time to experience the local area. For example, if you attend a college in Chicago and hope to find a job there, you could express your opinion on things you love about the city or that need improvement. If you can weave your academic experience into your perspective, then that will likely give you a boost over other candidates with similar credentials.
Job seekers shouldn’t be scared to mention the names of the colleges or universities they attended, particularly when these institutions are prestigious ones. To name drop effectively, a networking job seeker should remain sly about it, mentioning in passing some things he did that relate to his field while attending the college or university. By simply mentioning universities’ names here and there, job seekers improve their chances of catching the attention of someone who has a connection to that same school while avoiding turning off someone who may not like the practice of name dropping or may even not like the university from which the job seeker graduated.
All the education experience that a job seeker brings to the table can be useful when it comes to obtaining employment. When networking, those on a job hunt should use every tool they can to capture the attentions of those with hiring power. One of these tools is the job seeker’s alma mater. If a networker fails to use his alma mater when making business connections, he may miss an opportunity to connect with someone who could help him along his path to business success.
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