Connecting with Alumni
Connecting with Penn State Alumni is a great way to build your network and learn about potential future career paths. Alumni can provide insights, advice, and guidance on how you can be involved now to better prepare for the professional world. Penn State is lucky to have over 600,000 Alumni who are eager to assist current Penn Staters!
Conduct Informational Interviews (conversations with professionals in career fields of interest to obtain advice and guidance about chosen industries)
- Research and educate yourself about specific career fields and industry trends
- Identify people who can best provide or lead to the information you hope to gain (see below for where to connect)
- Understand what you want to gain from the meeting and have questions prepared
- Take time to research the person’s organization, position, etc. so that you have a sense of what he/she does
- Send a “thank you” e-mail, notecard, or letter after the meeting
- Reiterate your gratitude for the time the individual took to meet with you
- Keep in touch as appropriate. When relevant, provide an update on how you are doing
Questions you might ask:
- What do you do on a “typical” day? What are the “typical” career paths in this field?
- What part of this job do you find most satisfying? What challenges you?
- What has been your career path and how did you get into your current position?
- What makes a person most marketable for positions in this field? What personal qualities or abilities are important to being successful in this job?
- What opportunities for advancement are there in this field and what is the current demand for people?
- In what ways is this field changing or growing? What issues are affecting the field, your position, or your organization?
- What special advice would you give someone entering this field?
- Which professional journals and organizations would help me learn more about this field?
- What suggestions do you have for me to enhance my background and/or resume?
- What are general salary ranges for positions in this field and/or type of position?
- How would you describe your organization’s culture?
- With what other individuals should I speak to gain additional information?
Where you can connect with Alumni:
- Candid Career: Get the inside scoop on career paths from Penn State Alumni!
- LinkedIn: Connect with fellow Penn Staters virtually. Not sure how to get started? Watch this video to see how you can use the “See Alumni” Function on LinkedIn
- LionLink: Network with Penn State grads!
- Apply to be Matched with an Alumni Mentor!
- Hear from Smeal Alumni at college events, such as Impact Smeal Day, which happens once a semester