An enigma plagues the students of Carnegie Mellon University. Upon commencement, the question looms: What now?
Several Carnegie Mellon alumni have answered that question. The university has produced Nobel laureates, Academy Award winners, and business tycoons. A select few times a year alumni come back to the school. Homecoming weekend is one of them.
In high school, Homecoming is idealized as a time to dance, attend pep rallies, and root for your team. Carnegie Mellon may not have a dance, the pep rallies may not be well attended, and our football team may not be on campus over Homecoming weekend, but this is a time to take advantage of our alumni. They can help us build our futures.
Networking means a lot of things. For some, it means finding connections through family friends. For another 17 percent or so, networking is made easier because of Greek life. But other students at Carnegie Mellon may find networking a mystery. Those people can turn to the services available at the school.
For instance, the university is offering career-based panels throughout Homecoming weekend, including a panel called “Life Long Networking.” Martin Black, director of Career Services, said, “[The seminar] is bringing in older alumni who are highly successful in verbal [communication].... They will be walking up and down the aisles engaging people.”
The Alumni House works hard to build strong connections between students and alumni. Students make connections when alumni come to campus and sometimes score high-paying jobs. However, the alumni doing the hiring get benefits too.
“The alumni of this school tend to have a high respect for the faculty, for the curriculum, so they feel very comfortable talking to their students about their own company as a potential career destination,” said Black. Alumni can trust that the people they hire from Carnegie Mellon have had educational experiences similar to their own, and that those new hires have had to live up to similar expectations to achieve their degrees.
Homecoming weekend will also include a seminar titled “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs.” Here, students can get a close look at very young alums. “We lead in with a workshop with people they may even recognize from the previous year,” Black said, explaining that students might see the alums and think: “ ‘She walked down the hall; she’s now working for the Federal Reserve; she’s an alum and she can talk about how she went from being a student from being gainfully employed.’ It’s all still very fresh.... There’s very little that distinguishes her from the students, making alumni very real to the students.”
Students aren’t just limited to alumni from this university, either. Carnegie Mellon’s Reciprocal Services, a program run through the Career Center website, allows students from other colleges to access our students. Thus, when undergraduates try to get in touch with alumni, they are not just limited to Carnegie Mellon graduates; they have a whole world of alumni open to them.
Alumni House, as well as the Career Resource Center in the UC’s basement, allow alumni to meet students one-on-one; both centers have time set aside for alumni to return and present career-related information. Susan Timko, a career consultant for H&SS majors, said that some ways networking are: “Through workshops, including the familiar Tech Sunday and H&SS Sophomore Symposium.” Other opportunities also help encourage alumni relations. “Alumni utilize our on-campus recruitment system to interview students for full-time and internship opportunities in their organizations,” said Timko.
The Career Center is not just for full-time job searches. Its databases allow alumni to advertise internship opportunities and summer jobs for students to investigate. Alumni who have students start working for them over a summer can build a relationship that later advances their companies. “The networking that results from the alumni reunion has in the past led to jobs; it’s led to internships; it’s led to full time jobs; it’s led to relationships where the alum becomes the alumni mentor,” Black said.
“Networking with alumni as well as other professionals is one of the most effective methods for finding internships and full-time employment,” said Timko. “Carnegie Mellon offers many opportunities for students to connect with alumni. Specifically, throughout the year there will be a variety of Network Night events across the United States that are designed for this purpose. The Career Center will be alerting students of these opportunities, plus many more throughout the year.”