Alumni and Student Career Network
- Membership Requirements
- Using the Career Network
- Making the Connection
- Helpful Hints
- Sample Letters and Thank-You Notes
- Informational Interviews - What to Ask?
The College of Charleston Alumni & Student Career Network group on LinkedIn is the Career Center's professional networking community for College of Charleston alumni and undergraduate students. It is a forum to share career-related knowledge, information, referrals, and advice across industries and geographic locations. All alumni are welcome!
Alumni may simply request to join the group by logging into LinkedIn. If you do not already have a LinkedIn profile, please review the information on our How You Can Help page for get started with LinkedIn.
Students MUST complete the following steps to access the Alumni & Student Career Network group on LinkedIn:
1. Review the entire Networking webpage.
2. Review the Sample Networking Letters.
3. Create a profile on LinkedIn. (See “Building a Great Student Profile and Top 5 Profile To-Do's”).
4. Read and sign the Alumni & Student Career Network Contract or download and complete the print version and return it to the Career Center (2nd floor, Lightsey Center)
5. Request to join the College of Charleston Alumni & Student Career Network on LinkedIn.
Networking with alumni is about building relationships and connections in a purposeful, organized way. Alumni can share information and insights about their career field as well as names of associates and businesses who might be interested in speaking with a potential employee. In using the Alumni & Student Career Network, please remember that the alumni contacts have agreed to provide you with career advice, guidance, and direction; not to find a job for you. The purpose of contacting alumni is to seek out and gather information about careers and majors that interest you. Your questions should focus on asking for advice or assistance based on that purpose. Remember, it is essential that you be informed, confident, and polite throughout this process.
When contacting alumni, clearly articulate who you are as well as your goals. Start Building Your Brand!
- Give a brief description of who you are and state how you are connected.
- Communicate your objectives, whether it is to learn about their industry/career field/organization or to get advice on the job search process and preparing for interviews.
- Refer to the Sample Networking Letters for examples of what to say in your e-mail/message.
A great way to use this network is to arrange a brief informational interview with alumni. Some alumni prefer to speak with students/alumni in person or by phone, while others are available via e-mail. A face-to-face conversation is usually the best if possible, because both of you get to know each other better this way. Review our Informational Interviews page for suggestions of what types of questions to ask alumni. You should also review the Helpful Hints page to prepare for the informational interviews.
Once you have joined the College of Charleston Alumni & Student Career Network group on LinkedIn, you will automatically be connected to a group of alumni and current students who are interested in sharing information about their career fields/organizations and possibly providing referrals to associates, businesses, or professional organizations. As a member of the Alumni & Student Career Network group, you can post articles, ask questions and comment on group discussions. Use these helpful guides to help you start the conversation:
Sample Questions to Ask the Alumni & Student Career Network Group
- How can students find summer internships in the _____ field? Are there other means of gaining experience before graduation?
- What abilities are important for success in the _____ field? What personality traits are important? What is the skill set an employer in the _____ field would look for in a new hire?
- What advice do you have for students who are preparing to enter the _____ field?
- What are typical titles for entry-level positions in the _____ field?
PLEASE NOTE: Membership in the Alumni & Student Career Network group does not automatically connect you to all LinkedIn members affiliated with the College of Charleston. To search for other alumni on LinkedIn:
- Use the “Advanced" feature of the “People” search. You will be able to search by keywords, location, job title, company, industry, and school. If you enter “College of Charleston” in the school field, your initial search will produce a list of any LinkedIn members who have identified the College in some part of his/her profile. To narrow the search, we recommend entering either keywords (such as a major) or an industry along with “College of Charleston.” (The full contact information will not be visible until you have made a connection request and have been accepted as a contact.) If you need assistance, please contact the Career Center.
It’s better to be prepared than to learn the hard way!
- Follow-up with alumni you connect with in order to foster the professional relationship; don’t let valuable information and advice slip through the cracks.
- Make sure your e-mail address, contact information, and out-going telephone message have a professional tone. If you are contacting an alumnus/a on the telephone, be professional and courteous. Do not call later than 7 pm.
- Research the career field or the alumnus/a’s organization before the informational interview.
- Respect alumni’s time and remember they are professionals with busy schedules. They are excited to assist you and answer your questions during a mutually convenient time.
- Prepare yourself for the informational interview. Have some questions prepared for in advance. Remember to respect the alumnus/a’s time and do not overwhelm them with too many questions. You may have the opportunity to meet with him/her again. Don’t exhaust your resources.
- Be professional and punctual. Take the lead during the informational interview, remember the alumni have volunteered their time to answer your questions. It is okay to be nervous, but do not appear to be unprepared. If your informational interview is face-to-face, you are expected to dress professionally and exhibit professional etiquette at all times.
- Follow up with a thank-you note within two (2) days. The thank-you note should be brief and professional. Check out our sample.
- Contact the Career Center to help search for College of Charleston alumni or prepare for an informational interview.
Letter to Alumni/Networking Contact, Example #1
Dear Mr. Smith,
I am currently a sophomore majoring in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance at the College of Charleston. I found your name on the College of Charleston Alumni & Career Network group on LinkedIn. After graduating, my goal is to apply the knowledge I have acquired from my degree, along with the experience I have gained in internships and research to obtain a position in investment banking.
Given your current position as Vice President of Goldman, Sachs, and Co., I am writing to request an informational interview with you. I am hoping to speak with you either in person or on the phone. I would like to discuss your educational background and professional career experience at Goldman, Sachs, and Co. Particularly, I am interested in hearing about a typical day in your position, your career progression, and any advice you have for someone entering the field.
I am available Monday through Friday after 1 pm and I am flexible to work around your availability. I can be reached at 843-953-0000, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you in advance for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Letter to Alumni/Networking Contact, Example #2
Dear Mr. Smith,
I am currently a junior at The College of Charleston majoring in Communications. Last summer, I completed an internship that I greatly enjoyed at a marketing company in Charleston, SC.
I am writing to you because I found your name through the College of Charleston Alumni & Student Career Network group on LinkedIn, and wanted to find out more about your position as Vice President at Fords Produce Company. I am interested in knowing more about your personal responsibilities when working with major worldwide businesses such as Target and Harvey Nichols UK.
Please let me know when the best time is to discuss in detail your position. I can be reached by phone or e-mail at any time. Please feel free to contact me at 843-555-1234 or email@example.com. I am looking forward to talking with you and possibly arranging a job shadowing day to learn more about the marketing and business world.
Letter to Referral
Dear Ms. Brown,
Bob Smith suggested I contact you based on your experience in the publishing field. I am currently at Random House, but looking to make a transition from the editorial side into marketing, which does not look possible in house.
I’m seeking the advice of seasoned professionals about how to best position myself and would very much appreciate an opportunity to meet with you briefly to get your perspective. Would you be available next week for a half-hour meeting?
I am available Monday through Friday, after 1 pm, and I am flexible to work around your availability. I can be reached at 843-953-0000, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you in advance for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.
College of Charleston, ‘12
Dear Ms. Smith,
Thank you for speaking with me today. Your insights and advice were truly helpful, and have confirmed my decision to gain more work experience in sales and public relations before applying to graduate school.
I will check the websites you recommended for job leads and have already contacted the SC Public Relations Society regarding membership.
I will touch base with you in a month to let you know about my progress. Thank you again for your time.
College of Charleston, ‘12