How to use alumni to your advantage

If you’re in your first or last year of university, one of the most valuable things you can take advantage of is the opportunity to get into contact with UON Alumni. No, not the triangle-eye, Bavarian secret society – university graduates!

Whether it’s sharing skills, knowledge, networking, or even just making new friends, getting involved with Alumni will truly take your university experience to the next level.  Here are a few ways you can get more out of your time at university by involving yourself with your Alumni:

Finding your way

It’s often assumed that if you’re at university you have a clear idea of the exact job you want and know the steps needed to get there. For some people this is true, but for those of us who have come straight from school, have limited experience or have worked in fields entirely separate from our degree, it can be difficult to be sure about all of this.

By contacting Alumni you can find out more about your degree’s courses from someone who has already completed them, what your chosen industry is like and the day-to-day of jobs your degree can lead to.

Whether it’s discussing your major, the possibility of further study, switching degrees or even making sure university is the right path for you, it’s never too early or too late to speak with former students with real skills and experience to get better clarity on what you want.

Careers Advisor, Monique Kassi, says the earlier you reach out for support, the better. “It’s never too early to start building your professional network. Making contact with Alumni at the beginning stages of your degree can significantly support your career planning and development. Establishing a relationship with Alumni early allows you to enjoy the benefits of this connection during your years of study, rather than at the end of your degree, or after graduation.”

Having a mentor

Unlike many other industry professionals, UON Alumni have been to the University of Newcastle just like you, and understand what it’s like to be a student looking for a job after their studies. Alumni will give you the extra care, support and guidance you need for entering the workforce.

“As UON graduates, Alumni have a special connection with the University and are likely to be receptive, welcoming, and keen to support its students,” Monique says.

A professional mentor is essentially a sounding board for the things you do along your career path, and the earlier you make these connections, the better. A member of Alumni can sit down with you, figure out a plan of attack and the next steps you can take alongside your studies to help you get a job at the end.

If you’re wondering how to get in touch with a member of Alumni, you can regularly find them on campus inspiring, mentoring and sharing their expertise and skills with students. These include iLEAD Plus and speed mentoring, as well as guest speaking events. So keep an eye out for these opportunities!

Building your professional network

As the saying goes, ‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.’ Professional networking is one of the most crucial things you should be doing whilst completing your degree. You could be the best student with the highest marks, most amount of skills and biggest drive to get the job you want, but without knowing the right people and making contact to organise work experience or a job interview, you might not go further than your studies.

According to Monique, “Building a professional network can open many possibilities and the sooner you start to network, the sooner you can start gaining additional knowledge and skills to help you do your job better or get that job you want”.

Chances are, members of UON Alumni are either directly involved with a company in your desired field, or they know someone you can at least contact to express interest in working for, so make sure to take advantage of this!

Networking can lead to a number of job opportunities not open to the general public, which automatically increases your chances. By getting in to contact and forming relationships with Alumni you will have a higher chance of getting your foot in the door.

Getting a Job

Let’s face it, the reason you probably chose to go to university is to increase your chances of getting a job. While this can definitely put you above other applicants, it’s important to remember the degree doesn’t guarantee you a job on its own.

Because Alumni is largely made up of graduates, their main focus tends to shift toward locking down a job or furthering their career path, as opposed to their undergraduate degree. When you’re studying with limited to no industry experience, it can be easy to forget to look for work experience, jobs and graduate positions if you’re caught by assessments and other university work.

Forming a relationship with a member of Alumni will automatically take the blinkers off and put your studies into perspective in terms of securing a job. Alumni can give you that invaluable advice of what kinds of jobs to apply for, who to contact and they can even make you aware of positions not advertised online to give you that extra leg up.

In an environment where you spend most of your time listening to university lecturers, Alumni adds a whole different perspective to your learning by giving you that experienced voice from someone who was not too long ago in your shoes.

How can I contact Alumni?

Career expos and other events are perfect for introducing yourself to Alumni and potentially making lasting professional relationships that can benefit you in a really unique way. You can engage with Alumni across the world on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn, or email alumni@newcastle.edu.au.

Also make sure to look out for opportunities offered by your school/faculty including guest lecture series, New Professor Talks and mentoring programs

 

Visit the Alumni page on the University website for more information:

https://www.newcastle.edu.au/alumni