Kendall Knox

So, you just graduated from college and you’re sitting on your mother’s couch watching TV, it finally hits you! You need to start thinking about your next plan of action for the future. I’m not talking about your weekend plans but your career direction and plans. Even though you may be out of school, your college holds valuable resources from which you can benefit.

College students who have graduated or soon to graduate face one of the toughest job markets in history. It’s very competitive out there, especially for recent grads because they’re going to be competing against many people with college degrees plus experience and even a large population of more seasoned professionals. Because of this, career counselors are encouraging grads to stay connected with their school’s alumni.

Have you ever thought about how your school’s alumni association can help you? Despite the tough economic times, alumni associations can provide a variety of services for students even after graduation. One of the great benefits for recent grads is networking. Alumni are scattered about the US, and typically alumni associations supply listings of alumni (often free) according to location, graduation year or occupation. The alumni connection can often provide the “in” you need for job and career assistance.

Often a great job – the job you want rather than the one you’ll settle for – is found through networking. By networking, you might access information relative to discovering hidden gems – “jobs no one is advertising.” Many jobs are filled before they are even made public. Possibly a position of interest is known by “an insider” because they work in the very company that you are targeting. Maybe they just have helpful information that will aid in focusing your search in industries that are currently growing.

Networking is so valuable because it is personal. An employee, friend, relative, professor, or alumni in the industry who introduces you on paper or in person to a hiring manager is a trusted referral. They often offer a voice of confidence in your qualifications as a good candidate for a position. Hiring managers will most often grant an interview when given a strong backing of recommendation. Even if the position is not a fit, you have made a new connection.

Even if graduation is years away, it is key to remember to take the advantages of your school’s alumni association and what it has to offer.