Stay Connected – Alumni Version
I spent my high school career preparing for my college. My 16 year old self thought “If I get into a good college, I will have access to a powerful alumni network when I graduate.”
…Fast forward 6 years. I graduated from my dream school and started working in the tech industry. Did I network? Of course. But I only networked with people that attended college with me and were also navigating life post 2am study sessions and impromptu dorm parties. While my university has a robust alumni website, I did not investigate it until recently.
It was a rainy Friday night and I had no social plans. Naturally, I grabbed a pint of overpriced ice cream and a good Netflix movie. The Netflix movie turned into internet surfing which turned into updating my horribly untouched alumni profile. 6 hours later, I was emailing every alumni in my fields of interests, geographical area, etc.
The point of the above semi-pathetic story is this: Your college network needs to be bigger than your dance team members, roommates, and study partners. These people will ALWAYS be great resources. But in order to have a powerful network, you must know the wise alumni who were before you. Let’s understand the different Alumni Categories:
The “OG”s – Also referred to as the “original gangsters”, these alumni have perfected their corporate ladder climbing, medical skills, investment expertise, and just all around “how to kick life’s butt” experience.
PROS: They WANT to help you! They want you to ask questions and lean on them for support.
CON: Unless you randomly run into one at the local coffee shop, it is your responsibility to find them. They don’t know where you are. You (usually) have to do the work to start the relationship.
The Fam – The group of people that you call “classmates”. These are your friends, personal contacts, and acquaintances that you met during your college experience.
PROS: They share similar experiences and are great for celebrating successes and venting about hardships.
CONS: They share similar experiences and are looking to you to help fix their life problems.
The Babies – The new college graduates are full of the “Superman” syndrome. This syndrome makes them feel like they know everything and can conquer anything! They need your support.
PROS: They remind you of the person you once were.
CON: They are very eager and have not lived long enough to understand that sometimes life (marriage, parenting, debt, sacrifices) can make your journey a tad complicated and interesting. Not everyone is going to live the Beyoncé lifestyle or build a social media empire my the age of 25. But all of us deserve happiness, regardless of what that happiness looks like.
Remember your responsibilities to your alumni community and support people the way you would like to be supported! Furthermore, make sure to use your alumni network to your advantage.