Question of the Week # 8: “Why is it important to connect with alumni?”

Throughout your time at Princeton, you will meet so many people who will have an impact on your future. One of the groups that can be extremely helpful in the “career sphere,” in particular, is alumni. Princeton alumni are great — they want to see and help other Princetonians excel in the world. They are also extremely well connected and want to help leverage their networks in order to give back to their beloved alma mater’s students. Throughout my four years at Princeton, I’ve reached out and stayed in touch with many alumni — and have seen positive results through each interaction.

9708Tonight, Career Services is hosting their annual “Alumni Connections” student-alumni networking at Prospect House from 6-8 pm. Over 40 Princeton alumni from a host of industries and fields will be in attendance. Come learn how their major influenced their post-Princeton choice and also get advice on how to pursue your own career interests! RSVP today if you already haven’t. This is the largest student-alumni networking event of the year and you do not want to miss it! Tables are arranged by industry and each student will receive a booklet with biographical information of the alumni participants.

Last year, I scoured the Alumni Career Network (ACN) and set up interviews with alumni in my field of interest. (Of course, I blogged about this and you can read all about it here.) This is a searchable database of Princeton Alum who have volunteered to provide career-related advice to Princeton alumni and students. There are over 4800 volunteers worldwide!

In addition to the alumni volunteers in the ACN, it is also important to maintain your connection to “soon-to-be alums,” or graduating seniors. Some of my closest alum contacts/friends are from groups on campus. Since we were already friends (or acquaintances) on campus before they 9823graduated, I always make sure I get their phone number or stay connected to them through Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. I made an effort to check in with them every few months to see how they were doing. Another perk is that since these alums already know me in such a personal capacity, they have been really influential and helpful throughout my time here. I feel very comfortable going to them to ask for both school and “real world” advice. They also are closer to my age so the Princeton experience (both highs and lows) is still pretty fresh for them.

Another important aspect of reaching out to alumni is the help they can give during the job and internship search. Want to speak to someone in a field you are interested in? Want some general career advice? Need help connecting in a new city? Want real job search strategies from a Princetonian? Alumni can help with all of this! Career Services also offers so many other student-alumni engagement programs you can check out: Princeternship, Princeton-in-Washington, the IMAGINE Speaker Series, and Alumni Panel Events based on Industries.

9907If you want some more advice on how you can connect with alumni, make an appointment with a career counselor. A career counselor might be able to give you targeted suggestions based on your needs and interests.

Hope to see you all tonight at Alumni Connections!

It’s Career Services’ 100th Birthday!

It’s somebody’s Birthday! Career Services is having its centennial celebration this year, and you’re invited to the party.

The office, founded as the “Self-Help Bureau” in 1912, has passed through some significant changes over the last century, but one thing has remained the same—its commitment to students. Throughout the years the office has served students and alumni in a feat that has helped land students in hundreds of thousands of jobs. Today, Career Services is a staff of 16 full-time professionals plus student workers and volunteers. Together they are responsible for putting on an informational event nearly every day, around five job or internship fairs yearly, meeting with around 50 students a day, reaching out to hundreds of companies and organizations, organizing the hustle-bustle of job and internship interviews throughout fall and spring, and much, much more.

Today more than ever, Career Services thrives to have a close relationship with the students it serves. Whether it’s meeting with students for counseling sessions, hearing feedback on events, engaging with students of all classes, or publishing student reports on Princeternships, Career Services has taken recent strides to incorporate student voices. In recent years, Career Services has been bringing students into the office—this time behind the desk. Student workers greet you at the front and make sure the office’s busy schedule runs smoothly. Student interns help take care of communications and graphic design for flyers and promotions. Career Peer Advisors help underclassmen with the job search and help plan and run informational events in residential colleges. Student volunteers lend a hand at major events as well. And bloggers (like me) research and report the latest buzz in Career News.

“Student feedback and input is essential for Career Services so that we can effectively tailor our events to meet their career needs,” said Eva Kubu, Manager of Communications and Outreach at Career Services.

On a personal note, working at Career Services has provided me the unique opportunity to communicate between the office and my peers. I can certainly vouch for the resources that Career Services offers, but most often I find myself persuading my friends to go see a career counselor–”So and so is really great with this particular field–and she’s a great person, too!” It’s rewarding to know that my work is helping keep my friends and classmates informed and up-to-date on the many professional opportunities that await them. It’s especially inspiring to me as I watch friends come in for interviews in Career Services, find their dream internships, head toward fulfilling, meaningful jobs, or go to a great grad school after graduation. I just think, all their hard work paid off–if they can do it, the rest of us can, too!

Come celebrate Career Services’ birthday by taking advantage of several important commemorative events this year.

Alumni Connections Student Networking Event
6 p.m. March 4, 2013, at Prospect House.
All students are invited to register for a chance to speak with over 40 alumni across many different industries.

Summer Internship and Nonprofit Career Fairs
11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, Feb. 15, 2013, at Dillon Gym
Come learn about the many job and internship opportunities available to you—and speak directly to employers.

Upcoming: A reception is planned for April, in which Career Services will host alumni participants in the “Princeternship” program. In addition to honoring the Class of 2013 as the 100th graduating class that Career Services has assisted, the office will host an open house for alumni during reunions.

Still curious about Career Services history at Princeton? Check out this super cool infographic as well as the University homepage article to learn some rather surprising anecdotes from your university’s job search history! And most of all—keep that student feedback coming in! You can e-mail me at career@princeton.edu.

Princeton Alumni are a Great Resource

Last Friday, Danny Steiner ’10 spoke about Careers in Hollywood. It is great to meet alumni who can provide insight into the opportunities available to students. Career Services offers several options for connecting with alumni in your field. Here are your choices:

  1. Networking events. Career Services hosts several events specifically designed for students to network with alumni. Last Friday’s Careers in Social Entrepreneurship, for example, was part panel and part networking. Every fall they host an “Alumni Connections” event and networking receptions are held at regional alumni clubs every summer. Students have the opportunity to interact with several alumni at all of these events–not just one given speaker. These events are great ways to meet many people in your chosen field.
  2. Solo speakers. I’ve yet to go to a Career Services “Careers-in” event where the speaker didn’t spend a few extra minutes afterwards to talk to individual attendees. While it’s not the specific purpose of an event like Careers in Hollywood, asking questions of the speaker is a way to show interest in his field. Worst-case scenario, you learn more about a career that interests you; best case–you get a business card with an email address.
  3. Finding alumni on your own. The Alumni Careers Network is a great place to start. It’s a searchable database of nearly 5000 Princeton alumni who have volunteered to help students that’s run by TigerNet, another great resource. With the ACN, you can search by degree, employer, or job title. Some alumni make themselves available just to give general information, but others offer assistance on finding jobs or internships. All you have to do is send that first email.

While Career Services provides many ways to get to know alumni, all of them have one thing in common–the student has to take the initiative. For more tips on exactly what to say and where to look, visit the Career Services’ page on developing contacts here.