“I was wondering if you have any career advice on how I can get my foot in the door somewhere or how to find any job openings.”
That was part of an email I recently received from a graduate student I’d worked with who graduated last weekend.
My concise answer: Join your university’s alumni association.
Every university, regardless of size, has an alumni association, and the alumni association can provide a number of job-related opportunities.
Alumni clubs can provide networking opportunities
Depending on the size of your university, you will find alumni chapters spread across the country — and perhaps the world. Once you know the geographic area where you are job hunting, you can check for alumni clubs.
Determine who the club officers are and make a person contact. Typically you can find the name of the club president. Send an email, call or friend the person on Facebook. Let them know you are hoping to move to the area and would love to have the help of the alumni club in finding possible job contacts.
The club president will know members of the club and could suggest individuals who are in your field of interest. From there, you can contact those individuals.
You will need to have the credentials to get the job, but your university affiliation can make a difference. Here in Florida, some businesses have a running dialogue about which Florida university a new hire is from. “We hired a Gator last time, so we need to hire a Seminole.”
If you already are living in the city you are job hunting in, you can attend a club event. The clubs typically have a calendar of events online. If you are eager to make contacts now, you may need to take the previous approach of making a direct contact because the club’s next event may not be until next fall for a game day viewing party.
Alumni can use university career resources
Universities offer a range of services to help their students find internships and jobs. Many universities extend some of those career resources to their alumni.
Alumni can have access to an online database of employers and being able to attend career fairs hosted by the university.
You also may be able to gain help from the career resource center’s job counselors. They can review your resume and cover letter and offer advice. You can do that face-to-face or through email.
The cost of these two resources is the cost of joining your university’s alumni association. For the University of Florida, the cost of joining the alumni association is $40. That’s a bargain for the resources the membership provides.
Have you had success or frustrations in using your university’s alumni association for job hunting? If so, please share your experience.