Importance of Connecting with Alumni
Most job seekers are familiar with the word “networking,” but many don’t fully understand what it means.
Networking is building relationships with professionals, especially in your career field of interest.
It is about connecting with people to make yourself known in the industry in which you want to work, to help you gather career information, and to learn about job opportunities and exchange ideas.
Networking is a continuous process, and you will gradually connect and maintain relationships with many professionals throughout your career. College is a great time to get started because most professionals enjoy meeting students, and building a network early can help you learn about internship and job opportunities.
It is common for people to feel intimidated when they start networking, but the more you do it the easier it becomes.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that about 70% of jobs are found through networking. For this reason it is important to connect with people to learn about opportunities through what is called “the hidden job market.” Also, there is a common understanding that good people know other good people. If you build positive relationships through networking, you are putting yourself at a competitive advantage. Networking is also a good way to show employers that you have strong professional skills such as initiative, persistence, and passion for the industry. It is by far the most effective job search strategy.
Once you have identified alumni to connect with (see the other sections of the Alumni Connections section to learn more), one of the most effective ways to build a relationship with these contacts and learn about internship and job opportunities is to set up an informational interview with them.
Connect with your career services office for additional information on networking and how to connect with alumni.
Use the Maroon and Gold Network to Connect
The Maroon and Gold Network: What is it?
The Maroon and Gold Network is a free, online resource from the Alumni Association for accelerating your career development.
What can I use it for?
*Seek career advice from alumni willing to help
*Schedule conversations online right through the platform
*Utilize powerful search options by industry, college, major, degree type, employer, location and more
Join the Maroon and Gold Network
Leveraging the network
When searching for other international alumni in the network, select the “Help Topic” filter, “Sharing My Experience as a Former International Student”
You can also narrow down alumni profiles by selecting the location filter. Think about selecting the location in which you’d like to work, your home country or other cities of interest.
Learn How to Find UMN Alumni in a Particular Location
LinkedIn offers you the opportunity to find and communicate with alumni in your field of interest. It allows you to connect with people you know and to see who they are connected to. Use the LinkedIn Alumni tool to see career-related data on U of M alumni. From the landing page, you can select the “Where they live” filter to find alumni working in a location that interests you. Think about selecting the location in which you’d like to work, your home country or other cities of interest. You can also filter to find alumni with your major, working at a specific company, and more. The filtered results will show up on the bottom half of the page. From there, you can look through names, titles, and companies to find alumni you would like to connect with.
People on LinkedIn have chosen to be on a networking website, so it is appropriate to contact people you don’t know—just be sure to communicate with them why you want to connect and keep all communication professional. Here is an example of a message to send:
Dear Mr. Kong,
My name is Lee Student and I am a senior at the University of Minnesota. I found you on LinkedIn’s alumni page and was wondering if I could connect with you. I am graduating with a Computer Science degree this May and would like to learn more about your career path as well as XYZ Company. Would you consider doing an informational interview with me? I really hope we can connect, and I appreciate your time. Thank you!
Alumni Association Networks
Connect with alumni networks in various locations by using the interactive map found on the Alumni Association’s website. Select the location in which you’d like to work, your home country or other areas of interest. You can find information about events and activities in that area as well as local and alumni association contact information for that particular area.
If you would like someone in the Alumni Association to introduce you to alumni in a particular area, please email Audra Gerlach Ferrall, Director of International Alumni and Travel, at [email protected].
Stories From Alumni
Hear from a variety of international alumni about their experiences as a student, making career decisions, ways to get experience, job searching, and advice for other international students.
- UMN International Alumni Live (z.umn.edu/umnintlalumnilive) (2020)
- UMN ISSS Alumni Stories