Connections are everything, especially in today’s fast-paced, entrepreneurial-geared work environment. As prospective students face the fear of taking out massive amounts of student loan debt, they wonder if they’ll find a job post-graduation that can sustain them financially. And in many cases, doing so involves making the right connections, either while still in school or through networking afterward. It’s true that just graduating from an Ivy League institution such as Harvard or Princeton, with a high GPA, will potentially give you an edge over other graduates, but knowing both these schools also have powerful alumni networks to help you find said the first job makes accepting their admissions offer all the sweeter.
But you don’t have to go to an Ivy League school to be able to network post-graduation; it’s just important to pick a school with a top alumni network at play. And these are found across the board, from small liberal arts colleges like Colgate College to large state schools like Texas A & M.
Bill Hethcock, who graduated from Texas A& keyM, says his alma mater is famous for its alumni network, both formal and informal.
“Alumni recognize each other at business networking and other functions because of the Aggie ring, which most A&M grads wear daily, especially in Texas,” Hethcock says about the ring, which can be purchased after graduation, and includes details like the year of graduation. “I run into multiple Aggies daily and notice their ring. It’s a great conversation starter.”
Becky Bye, an attorney and dental student at the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine, runs the Colorado chapter of her alma mater Colgate University. She agrees that a strong alumni network is key to success.
“The Colgate network has helped me tremendously… My first job as an attorney was with a highly respected large law firm, and I know that my resume was thoroughly reviewed amongst many due to Colgate connections I had within the firm who advocated for my employment there,” Bye says. “Additionally, throughout my career, there were times when I sought guidance about certain industries and insights about my career or careers of close friends. I had CEOs of Fortune 500 companies schedule phone meetings with me, despite their busy schedules, after receiving one email with questions about their industry. They were more than happy to thoroughly answer any questions I had for them and were eager to help in the future if I needed any follow-up help from them. These people didn’t even know me—they simply read my email and knew we shared the same alma mater.”
Bye says staying involved with your alumni association post-graduation is a smart move.
“As Colorado chapter president, I am responsible for working with the Alumni Office at Colgate and local alumni to organize events. These events range from networking events and happy hours to informational sessions with faculty from the school or fun, educational events,” she says. “An example of a recent event was an entrepreneurial panel regarding the beer industry. We are lucky enough to have alumni in various aspects of the exploding beer and microbrew industry, and we hosted these alumni on a panel to discuss the national and local beer industry and invited all area alumni. This was also an excellent way to match people who share certain interests to connect and continue dialogue outside of our programs.”