Student Guide to the Hampshire Network
Hampshire alumni are one of your best resources when you’re thinking about work and life after college. Talking with alumni can help you gain insight into a particular field, interest, place of work, and more. They can also assist you in building your professional network, potentially leading to internship, job, and business opportunities.
Search for an Alum
- Go to Hampshire Network and create an account using your email address, Facebook, or LinkedIn.
- Once you have an account, you can easily search for alums based on location, interests, work, grad school, and more.
What’s the best way to reach out once you’ve identified alumni you’d like to connect with? Here is some general advice to get you started.
Do Your Homework First
Before you reach out to alums, take the time to familiarize yourself with their work, and consider what specific things you hope to learn or gain from your correspondence.
Most alumni prefer that the initial contact be through email, but their preference may be noted in their Hampshire Network profile. Keep in mind, alumni contact information is confidential and may be used for career information purposes only.
Your Initial Email should be brief, friendly yet professional, and address the following:
- How you found them (Hampshire Network, referral from CORC, faculty, etc.)
- A little about yourself: Area(s) of study, (expected) year of graduation, and where you are on your own career journey (e.g,. exploring directions, researching industry, job searching)
- What you are seeking: Information about their organization, industry insights, job search, and/or grad school advice, etc.
- How you would like to meet (in person, by phone, or via Skype, depending on alum’s preference and availability)
- Always proofread emails before sending. Every interaction is an opportunity to make a good impression.
- Resume or no resume?
- Proceed with caution. It can be off-putting to the alum if you ask them for an internship or job, or even give that impression.
- Explain yourself. If you decide to include a resume with your email, it’s important to tell them why.
- A resume can be a nice way to share information about your interests and accomplishments with the alum, but make your intent clear!
Informational interviews allow you to gain knowledge about a particular field from an “insider’s” perspective, as well as to begin building a valuable professional network. Even a brief conversation may help inform your decisions about possible career paths, graduate studies, and strategies for taking your next steps.
Make a good impression by being prepared:
- Write down a list of the questions most important to you. This can be especially helpful if you tend to get nervous.
- Map directions and/or have the alum’s phone number or Skype name ready, to avoid last-minute scrambling.
- Be on time (or early). If your meeting is in person or even on Skype, dress appropriately for that business and look your best.
- Bring materials such as a pen, notebook, and a copy of your resume.
- Conduct the interview professionally: Listen carefully, ask good questions; be aware of the alum’s time constraints.
- DO NOT ask directly for a job or internship. You can show your enthusiasm and energy for the field or company, but don’t put them on the spot. If the moment feels right, you might say something like: “If you hear of a position that might be a good match for me, could you let me know?”
- Ask for recommendations of other people to contact for further information or different perspectives.
- Thank them for their time and willingness to share information with you.
Always send a well-written thank-you note within one or two days of your visit (email is acceptable). Mention parts of your talk that you enjoyed and advice you found helpful.
Write again in a month or two. Restate how their advice helped you, and update them on how your information gathering/job search is going. If they referred you to another contact, let them know what was helpful from that person. Stay in touch!
For more tips and guidance on contacting alumni for career advice, CORC is here for you!