Dear Matt: I’ve heard my college career center or alumni groups can help with my job search, even though I’ve been out of college and working for 15 years. If so, how?
Matt says: This is true, and any college career center or alumni group will be more than happy to help their fellow graduates, but it’s important to understand that the services offered can vary greatly, says Carmen Croonquist, Director of the Career Development Program and Career Services at Adler Graduate School (alfredadler.edu) in Richfield.
“Some universities provide comprehensive services, from career assessment and exploration to self-marketing activities such as résumé, cover letter and interview preparation,” says Croonquist.
For example, the University of St. Thomas Career Development Center (stthomas.edu/careerdevelopment) has several services available to alumni, says Diane Crist, Director of Career Development for the St. Paul-based private school. These services include online resources, career counselors who will meet with alumni looking for career exploration and change or help with a résumé, interviewing, social media or networking. What may be most valuable though is a school’s connection with the local hiring community. At St. Thomas, many alumni or employers contact the career center about job openings at their companies.
“It is certainly worth the time to connect with one’s alma mater to learn what opportunities exist,” says Crist — but she agrees with Croonquist that it’s important to have a full understanding of what services are available before setting expectations.
To do this, search your campus career center website to see what services are involved and then call to find out what options are available for you, says Croonquist. Ask questions: Are services free or fee-based? Are there limits on the number of sessions you can have with a career counselor? Do they offer a mentor network — a program that provides networking forums to connect alumni in a wide array of career fields? If so, how do you access it? Are job postings that come to the institution open to alumni as well as students? Are there career fairs and events open to alumni?
Other resources at your alma mater include former professors who may be connected to employers and alumni working in your current field, and your school’s alumni relations department, which can inform you of alumni networking events. Also, Crist points out, most colleges and universities have LinkedIn groups where you can network with fellow grads in a wide variety of fields.
Even though you haven’t been in college for well over a decade, your alma mater is ready, willing and able to help. They wanted you to succeed when you attended college and they want you to succeed after college.
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