There are several different criteria for which you can search for alumni on the UA Career Network. Depending on your individual needs, mentors can be filtered based on criteria such as, “Career Field,” “Cultural Affiliation” and “Degree Level.” The UA Career Network was created as a unique way for students and alumni to connect, and there is no one way of utilizing this resource. The network is especially useful for students in career fields that don’t typically offer mentoring or apprenticeship opportunities. Students can have mentors that they meet with once a month or may just meet with once. Meetings can occur in person, by email or by phone. Every student has different needs and every mentor has differing availability, so both parties will have to be flexible. Be as creative with the network as you’d like. Making alumni connections will only prove beneficial, as you navigate through your college years.
Once you’ve searched through the Career Network, and you’ve found an alumnus that you would like to speak with, you have the option of contacting them by email. Here are some examples of reasons to contact alumni and things to keep in mind:
- Informational Interviews are a resourceful way for students to gain insight into their prospective fields of work. As a mentee, you could ask alumni about details specific to their career, the same can be done with mentors in graduate degree programs. See FAQs for a list of sample questions.
- In addition to an Informational Interview, Job Shadowing is an opportunity where mentees can spend a day with a professional in their field of interest. In addition to being able to ask questions, students can follow professionals as they engage in different tasks throughout their work day. This allows for a more hands-on and enriching experience.
- Less formal than an informational Interview, students may just have one or two burning questions that they’d like to ask. This is fine too, although an Informational Interview has the potential to offer a more thorough exchange of information.
- Research your career. Looking up details like salary, required education and employment projections will better prepare you for conversation and help you to develop questions. You should also have a strong answer as to why you are pursuing your field. Here are some online resources for researching Career Information:
- Schedule a Mock Interview with a Career Services Counselor. It’s always a good idea to brush up on your interviewing skills and receive feedback. Remember, first impressions are important. You can also practice at home using UA Interview Prep.
- Make sure your Resume is up to date. Stop by Career Services, during Walk-In hours, to have a Counselor review it for you.
- Proper etiquette encourages a formal expression of thanks; such as a card, email or letter, to mentors who provide Informational Interviews or Job Shadowing opportunities. Here is a sample contact email to send to a prospective mentor:
Hello Mr. Smith,
My name is Anna Johnson and I am a Junior at the University of Arizona, currently majoring in Journalism. Through the UA Career Network, I saw that you also majored in Journalism and are currently working in the field. I’ve been thinking about my options for after graduation and would really appreciate the opportunity to speak with you about some of my ideas. I’m also in the process of looking for a summer internship and would like to know if you could help me with that in any way. Please feel free to contact me by email or by phone. I look forward to hearing from you and appreciate your time.
Here is a sample thank you note to send to a mentor:
Dear Mr. Smith,
I would like to thank you for taking time out of your schedule to meet with me. Speaking with you has put me in a position to make well-informed decisions about my course of study and my career/graduate school plans. I also appreciate your introducing me to co-workers and other professionals in the field. I look forward to hearing from you about the possibility of the summer internship opportunity that we discussed. Thanks again and take care.