As an undergrad, you have minimal interaction with alumni. Maybe at a tailgate in the fall or a professional event, but other than that, you mainly interact with other students and professors.
While in Corporate America, either as an intern or new employee, you are interacting solely with other employees, of which are almost exclusively alumni of a college or university. While these are both labels, it is important to understand how to use that label to your advantage. Here are 3 ways to use your alumni network once in Corporate America:
- Networking. This is the most obvious way to use your alumni network. You already have an “in” with people who graduated from your school, so take advantage of it! Set up time with fellow alumni and get to know them. Once you have established a relationship with them, ask for introductions into their networks. Networking gives you the chance to learn about additional opportunities to make further connections with your alma mater, both inside and outside the company
- Mentorship. As a new employee, finding a mentor can be challenging. As mentioned previously, you already have an “in” with a select group of people at your company, so use that in to gain a mentor. Being able to connect with others off the bat on common ground will accelerate your relationship. Accelerating the relationship means you can talk about deeper, more challenging/important topics sooner, making you a more productive person and employee
- Education. Your alumni network is an open source of education. Having connections in both your own area and other areas of the company is an open invitation for you to learn. If you are in marketing and there is another alumni in finance, learn about how the P&L works. Or reach out to an alumni in supply chain and learn about demand planning. Having a well-rounded perspective will make you more knowledgeable and better able to make educated decisions that benefit you and the company
While these are 3 ways to use your alumni network once in Corporate America, it is equally, if not more, important to be willing to give to other alumni, especially those younger than you. You need to be willing to give your time, connections, and knowledge. Having the ability to share these attributes with others will enhance alumni connections and improve the reputation of your college or university throughout the company. If your school’s reputation is solid throughout your company, that reflects positively on you as an individual.
- What ways have you used your alumni network?
- How can you improve the experience of younger alumni at your company by giving your time and energy?