Alumni Career Services for Schools

Last week a young alumna called me asking for help. She was looking to make a career change, and was hoping I could provide some networking resources.

We chatted for a while. She outlined the field she was interested in, showed me her resume, and described her future plans. In turn, I gave her the names of some people from our School community who I thought she should speak to (alumni, faculty, parents). I directed her to our LinkedIn group, and gave her some networking tips. At the end of our conversation, I also suggested make use of her university alumni connections, and explore their career services.

She remarked that she had tried, but found her university services lacking.

This led me to the following thought(s): do independent schools in general offer alumni career services? If not, why not? Is the assumption that a university or college alma mater will be the more likely place for a graduate to turn, and therefore it isn’t worth it to run full-fledged career services? While many alumni would think immediately of their university for alumni career networking, I wonder how many would also think of their high school connections.

I plan to explore this in a future post, and am using this one as fodder for conversation, feedback and resources. Give me your two cents in the comments. Thanks!

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7 Responses to Alumni Career Services for Schools

  1. Good questions Liz! At St. Albans School in Washington DC we established an alumni networking program several years ago called STAR (STA Resource) which provides networking and career transition help. And last year we setup a LinkedIn Community to provide an additional platform for alumni, parents and friends of the school to connect professionally with one another. While our programs are not as advanced as those at the collegiate and university level, our progress mirrors that of what I’ve seen at other independent schools regionally and nationally.

    • Elizabeth Allen says:

      Hi Dave – thanks so much for the feedback. Are current seniors notified of the STAR program, or do you wait to promote it with them until they’re likely to have left university four years later? Just curious how you handle that.

      • Current seniors are indeed notified about the STAR program. In the spring of their senior year, students take part in a day-long networking event with young alumni, members of the Alumni Association Board and folks from the the Alumni Relations and Development Offices. Many begin using it almost immediately to help secure internships over holiday and summer breaks from university.

  2. I agree, it’s an interesting phenomenon, and is even more pronounced in U.S. public schools. I recently created a LinkedIn Group for graduates of the public high school I attended. Almost no U.S. public high schools have alumni organizations, yet our school acquaintances (and people from other generations who knew the same teachers, our siblings, parents, and neighbors) are quintessential examples of “weak ties.” They are a potential source of new information, job leads, business referrals and more. This networking practice could easily be replicated across many kinds of communities, but I think the absence of the need for large-scale fundraising has suppressed the alumni relations function in public school systems. Therefore, structured networking among these groups is limited.

    • Elizabeth Allen says:

      Hey Andy, thanks for the insight. I think you’re right about fundraising and alumni relations functions in public schools preventing structured networking activity – if there’s no staff member or dedicated team to start it, it would instead mean an alumnus/a would start a networking group on their own (like you did). Few are likely to take the initiative…but I wonder if that is indicative of the fact that there isn’t much of a need?

  3. Krista says:

    Great questions and discussion so far, Liz! Looking forward to reading your future post on the topic, as our institution is starting to revamp its Alumni Relations program and I think networking/career services needs to be a part of it.

  4. Pingback: Changing industries? | Network Polish Kit

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