How to network with alumni

You’re good at networking with other students, friends, and professors. Now extend your networking skills to reaching out to your school’s alumni to develop more internship opportunities. Here are our top 4 tips for building your network with alumni:

  1. Visit the career center on campus and talk to a counselor about networking with alumni. The center may already have established relationships with alumni who are facilitating internships. If so, study the list and identify appropriate internship sites and alumni relevant to you. Look for sites that offer internships related to your major and study the alumni profiles for common bonds. For example, the alum night have had the same major as you or come from the same state or hometown. Now you have a basis for dialogue when you contact these alumni.
  2. Go to the alumni office on campus and ask for an alumni directory. The alumni office is a very busy place, and people may not have time to discuss the alumni with you or there may be confidentiality issues here, too. But once you have an updated directory, you can research the alumni and companies through Google or the company Web sites for more information on internships or career opportunities in the various companies.
  3. Visit your own department, inquiring about a list of alumni. You might even offer to help update the list, which means you could contact the alumni on department business, giving you an excellent reason to network. Most departments and schools perform phone marathons every fall, using students to contact alumni for donations to the university. Departments are always searching for students to make the calls. The alumni often like to hear what’s new in the department and may respond positively to your interest in his/her career.
  4. You can also pursue networking opportunities through alumni newsletters and alumni events on campus. Collect as many copies of present and past alumni newsletters from the alumni office and your own department to map out your networking strategy.  If alumni have received awards, you could write to each person, offering congratulations and asking for an informational interview. Or you could ask if you could interview them for the school newspaper or for a class project or assignment.  Note on your calendar any alumni events, such as homecoming, and volunteer to help with campus tours or receptions for alumni, where you can network first-hand and develop valuable contacts.
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