With one month left, this academic year is coming to a close. This means that the number of alumni will grow. After a few years, these students will move away, get married, have children, and ultimately grow further and further from their university. However, the end of an academic career does not have to mean the end of a relationship with one’s alma mater. When graduates keep in contact with their school it is beneficial for them, the university, and us, the current students.
Now the initial conclusion someone might jump to is “we are just going to beg them for money,” but trust me, alumni can do more than just fund programs. Grand Valley’s PRSSA chapter and Ad Club always welcome guest speakers at their meetings, whether they are alumni or not. PRSSA has hosted many speakers, one being Grand Valley alumnus Adam Russo. Having guest speakers present is a great way to hear about firsthand experience and gain a better understanding of career paths. This is also an opportunity for networking. After understanding their experiences in the field and learning things you would never hear in a class, you can take the time to introduce yourself, exchange emails, and start networking.
You have begun grow your professional network, and maybe you need some help. Many majors require that a student has completed at least one internship. These positions are not the easiest to come by, as jobs become more competitive. With this high level of competition, knowing someone on the inside is a major benefit. As the old saying goes, it’s who you know. There are countless success stories that begin with an internship gained through a connection, not an application. If you keep in contact with someone who graduated from your university and express to them that you are looking for an internship, then you might have a similar success story. Having an experienced professional from your university vouch for you makes getting an internship a lot easier.
Alright, so we see that a symbiotic relationship with alumni can be a great thing, but first you need to know them. Some graduates may lose interest in their alma mater or grow distant from the student body. It’s unlikely that they will contact us, so, it is our job as the current students to get in contact with them and maintain a strong connection that will keep everyone intrigued and involved.
Luckily, Grand Valley has an organization whose purpose is to connect students with alumni. The Future Alumni Association, or the FAA, host networking events for students, past and present, to create connections between each other. They recently put on “Dinner for 7 Lakers,” an event where students and professional alumni could meet and network over a meal. In addition, the Advertising and Public Relations program has started to create the APR Alumni Relations Committee to be used as a bridge between APR alumni and students.
In the end, a graduate of your university is someone to keep in your Rolodex. These people were once in your shoes, sharing similar experiences with you. Building a network filled with them can only benefit you and them. Visit the FAA’s website (https://www.gvsu.edu/faa/) for more information on what alumni can do for you and how to connect with them.