Networking with Clarke alumni provides students with an excellent opportunity to learn more about their career interests and assists students in career exploration and decision making. Most communication between alumni and students is done through e-mail. Networking is beneficial to all students, first year to senior level, as you explore, define, and finally pursue your career interests.
Information from alumni:
- Is current
- Can be tailored to student interests and needs
- Provides information about the work environment
- Can be a source of career options
- Provides insights into projected growth for the field
Establishing the Relationship
It is beneficial for you to establish a long lasting relationship with alumni in your career field. He/she is a valuable source of information to a new professional entering the field. Be courteous and remember to thank alumni for all their assistance. Also keep in mind that alumni have busy schedules; therefore, it is best to ask one question at a time and discuss it rather than sending an entire list of questions.
Feel free to ask alumni whatever you are curious about. The following questions serve as suggestions of conversations you may want to discuss with alumni.
Questions About the Alum’s Job
- What is involved in a typical day? What are some of the routine aspects of your position? How much time do you spend with people, data, and things?
- How did you get into this position/field?
- What is the best part; what keeps you in the profession?
- What are the greatest challenges in your position/field?
- What skills are most essential for effectiveness in this job?
- What personal/professional qualities will contribute to success in this field?
- Do you work independently or in a group?
- What advice would you give to someone who wants to do this kind of work?
- How did you prepare yourself for employment?
- If you were a college student again, what would you do the same and/or differently?
- What careers are possible with my major?
- What electives will be most useful?
- What experiences during college will enhance my employability?
- What types of training are provided to persons entering this field?
- How can students find summer jobs or internships in your field? Are there other means of gaining experience before graduation?
- Is a graduate degree important? If so, what fields of study are helpful?
- Can you recommend sources for more information (specific books, trade publications, professional journals)?
- How often do you work past 5 p.m. and on weekends?
- Which seasons of the year are toughest in your job?
Supply and Demand
- What types of employers hire people in your line of work? In what types of industries are they?
- How competitive are entry-level jobs? What type of job search would you recommend?
- What developments on the horizon could affect future opportunities?
- Why do people leave this field?
- How long does it usually take to move from one position to the next in this career field?
- How do you see entry-level jobs in this field changing over the next two years?
- What career options and paths are available in my field?
- What are related jobs and industries that I might explore? If you made a career change, what other fields would you consider?
- How do you get promotions?
- What would be my earning potential if I entered this field?
E-mail Etiquette Tip Sheet
This advice may prevent you from embarrassing yourself in the future.
Don’t Be a Novelist
Messages should be concise and to the point. Respect the other person’s time.
The question here is “How personal is too personal?” or to be more specific, how do you start your e-mail?
Each situation will need to be evaluated on its own, but in general, use the following as a guide: If you normally address a person as Miss/Mr./Ms. Smith, that’s the way you should initially address them in e-mail. If you normally call them by their first name, it is recommended that you bypass the standard formalities. At most, only include something along the lines of “Dear Tom” or just “Tom”.
Privacy? Are You Kidding?!
There is no such thing as private e-mail.
With some systems, the administrator has the ability to read any and all e-mail messages.
Some organizations monitor employee e-mail.
This is important to remember because there could be some questions that alumni may not answer due to the fact that they don’t want others in their organization to know this information. If alumni choose not to answer one of your questions, it may be a result of a privacy issue. In this situation simply move on to another question.
Better Than Snail Mail
E-mail is a conversation that does not require an immediate response. With e-mail you send a message and then wait for a response. The response may come in five minutes or the response may come in five days. Therefore, you should not expect a response from alumni immediately. It may take them a couple days to respond. Remember to be patient.