If you ask any WVU alumni what their favorite thing about being an alum, you will get many different answers. Some will point to the lucrative sports program, while others will claim it’s the kinship and family bond that comes with being a part of something so important to the state of WV.
Whatever your answer is, we can all agree that there are many great things about being a graduate of WVU. One thing that many alumni do not realize, especially young ones, is how far a fellow graduate will go to help you advance your career. I’m sure that while at WVU many of you were told that networking is a great way to meet potential employers. However, if you are like most people, you still hit the job boards and applied to random positions when looking for a job.
As someone who works with hiring managers on a daily basis, I can attest that most people will go the extra distance for someone who went to his/her alma mater. It is not out of the ordinary to hear a hiring manger say something like, “He went to XX School? So did I! Let’s bring him in for an interview.” It’s the fact that they immediately have something in common with you that makes you so much more attractive to fellow WVU alumni. They relate to you because you can talk about WVU football, the Mountainlair, the PRT, and the many other things that make Morgantown special.
One of the best ways to network with fellow Mountaineers is to be involved with not only your local WVU alumni chapter, but also by joining the WVU Alumni Association. By being a part of your local Chapter and the Alumni Association, you will be able to attend many different events where fellow grads of all ages and career levels will gather. Even if you are not currently in the job market, it never hurts to build personal and professional contacts as you never know when you or a friend may need them.
There are many WVU alumni who have worked their way up in some of the nation’s largest and well known companies. For example, there are WVU graduates who are top executives in companies like Frito Lay, GE, and Cisco. One thing worth noting about large companies is that they do not typically post their jobs on the internet; they instead rely on their own employees to refer people they have met through friends, family, and most importantly their own respective alumni associations. This is one reason why it is a good idea to network in the local and national alumni groups. Even if they have nothing to do with the hiring process, there is a chance they will know who to get your resume to, and if they are a trusted and respected person in their company, you already have an upper hand over many other applicants.
There are many young alumni that I know of who have taken advantage of networking with successful alumni to find their next job. Jason Colson, for example, has landed his past two positions by networking with fellow Mountaineers. Jason first met Verl Purdy while he was an intern at the WVU Alumni Association. Jason built a relationship with him and when it came time for him to start looking for a job, Verl helped him land a position with AGDATA. Jason, who continues to be an active WVU alumnus, also found his current position by networking at the Parents Club Freshmen send off in Charlotte, NC. It was through building a relationship with Steve Carpenter that Jason was able to get a job with Crothall Healthcare. This is just one example of how being an involved grad can help you to build a successful career, where hopefully one day you will be able to help the future generation of WVU graduates achieve their dreams.
So whether you are looking for a job or just keeping your options open, use those fun WVU alumni events (ranging from golf tournaments to crab feasts) to not only make new friends, but also to build your professional network.
Keshama Horton (‘08, ‘09) lives in Charlotte, NC, where she is a staffing specialist for MISource.