Students and Alumni: Get Connected
By Brendan Gwynn
Approximately 80 percent of hires take place through networking, particularly because friends hire friends. Making connections is an important part of preparing for and having a successful career. This applies to students who are looking to network into beneficial situations, as well as to alumni who are trying to make connections with their collegiate roots.
BYU Rise: Share Your Story
RISE is a program designed to illustrate what alumni are currently doing in their lives. Whether you are a stay-at-home mom, professional in the field, or CEO of a large corporation, RISE allows you to tell your story. This is a great way for alumni to reconnect with their roots and show how BYU influenced and prepared them for success in their current responsibilities. Anyone can submit a story to RISE through the BYU Alumni website.
BYU Bridge: Find BYU Connections
Bridge is one of the most beneficial, yet underutilized, networking resources available to both students and alumni. The main purposes of Bridge are to allow employers and students to make connections, and to provide alumni with a place to assist students and seek employment themselves.
Through Bridge, alumni can sign up with a BYU netID to be network contacts for Life Sciences students. Those who do not have a netID can contact the Registration Department to obtain one.
As a network contact, alumni can assist students by answering questions, providing insights, and offering advice. Alumni can limit the number of students and how often they can be contacted, so even those who are only able to contribute a few minutes each month can still be actively involved. Currently, 20 percent of the alumni networks on Bridge are Life Sciences contacts.
Lisa Christensen, associate director of career advancement with BYU University Career Services, emphasized how beneficial this can be to the BYU community.
“If students get help from [alumni], they are going to want to come back and be mentors themselves,” Christensen said.
As for students using Bridge, filling out their profiles will also be beneficial. Not only will the system match and suggest available jobs based on interests, students can also participate in mock interviews, connect with company contacts, and learn about career opportunities and career fairs. Students may also want to consider downloading the Career Fair Plus app, which highlights when businesses will be attending fairs.
“If we want employers to come here, we need our students to be in the system,” Christensen said.
In addition, employers have access to the system, which allows them to post jobs available to students and alumni.
“Employers are actually using this system,” Christensen said. “They can sit at their desk in Boston and look through resume books. But the majority of our students don’t have a resume in Bridge, so employers don’t see them.”
Those who are willing to take the time to fill out their profile and play around on Bridge will quickly reap the benefits.
LinkedIn: Connect with the Professional World
Another great networking resource available to both students and alumni is LinkedIn. There are nearly 188,000 people on the site who list BYU as their alma mater, which makes it a perfect place to make connections and build relationships.
Robert Sullivan, director of alumni college and student relations at BYU, said that LinkedIn is unique when compared to other social networking sites.
“You’re not going for likes, comments, and shares on LinkedIn,” Sullivan said. “Rather, it gives all of your alumni a place to network.”
Because of the way LinkedIn is designed, individuals can only connect with those in their network. However, those who list BYU on their profile are able to connect with any BYU alumni, regardless of how their networks overlap, because they share a common alma mater.
Another beneficial feature available to alumni is the BYU Networking group, which currently has over 47,000 members. This is a great place for alumni to post jobs and seek potential employees, and is a great place for students to make connections with alumni in their prospective fields.
In addition to this, all users of LinkedIn will find the search tool helpful, because it allows you to search by location, job type, and even company. This makes it extremely easy to find and reach out to BYU alumni working in specific settings.
Ultimately, the purpose of LinkedIn is to be find and be found.
Tips for LinkedIn:
- Use a professional profile picture
- Fill out every section on your profile
- Include your contact information
- Add BYU to your profile
- Join the BYU Networking group
- Be active on the platform
- Build connections
- Don’t ask people for a job
Take a Cougar to Lunch: Face to Face Networking
One unique program that the BYU Student Alumni Association offers is Take a Cougar to Lunch. This program is a great opportunity for students to meet and network with alumni in a casual, friendly setting. The BYU alumni will pay for the student’s lunch and provide mentoring in connection with the student’s career interests.
This is especially helpful for students, because it not only allows them to make a connection with BYU alumni, but also enables them to explore the workforce through the eyes of an experienced professional. This is great for both students who may be unsure what direction they should take with their studies, as well as for students who are hoping to make their career ambitions a reality.
The database for the Take a Cougar to Lunch program includes alumni in virtually every field. Alumni are excited to share the knowledge that they have gained through years of experience in their chosen field and to provide advice to inquisitive students looking for professional help. Alumni are perhaps the best resource for students, and this program is designed to help students connect with those who are willing to help.
AskY: Get Personalized Answers to Career Questions
Similar to the Take a Cougar to Lunch program, AskY allows students to connect with experienced alumni via resources like Skype, FaceTime, and LinkedIn. Many alumni would like to mentor and assist fellow Cougars, but are unable to do so because of career commitments or their current location. In the same fashion, students are able to connect with professionals in their prospective field and ask questions that will help them be successful in their educational and career goals.
Making worthwhile connections is an important part of being successful. Networking involves more than just “knowing somebody.” It is all about developing authentic relationships, which can lead to significant experiences for both parties.