Young Alumni: Did you know that 85% of jobs are filled through networking?

As a recent Ole alum, you’re a newbie in the job market. Maybe you’ve just landed your dream job, maybe you’re taking steps toward finding it, or maybe you don’t know where to start. We’re all in different places, and that’s okay. But no matter where you are in the process, there are tools that can help you along the way. Networking is one of them.

What is networking? At its core, networking is the connections you make with other people within your area of interest. It can help you learn more about a particular industry, find opportunities, and land jobs.

Being part of the St. Olaf alumni network means that you have access to incredible networking opportunities. There’s nothing quite like the Ole network — your fellow alumni are almost always willing to have a conversation with you about what they do. But how do you start taking advantage of this resource?

First, you need to take some time to figure out what you’re looking for. What are your broad interests? In what areas do you hope to work? How do those areas and interests utilize the strengths you have? And what questions do you have for people working in these spaces? Once you know the answers to these questions, you can start to seek out individuals with whom you would like to connect.

Do your research: find out who works in your area of interest, reflect on their career path and the experiences that helped them advance or pivot to their current role. There are several ways to find people in your network. St. Olaf’s new career platform, Ole Connect, is a great place to make connections and find new opportunities. LinkedIn is an excellent tool as well, allowing you to search for alumni on the St. Olaf page and filter your findings by industry. Once you have identified Oles working in your interest area, you can locate their contact information using the St. Olaf Alumni Directory.

Once you’ve identified some potential connections, reach out to them and express interest in their work. Above all, networking is about making a genuine connection with another person (see the Piper Center for Vocation and Career’s Networking Guide). Don’t lead by asking for a job — instead, be curious about what they’re interested in and their unique career path. Make a list of questions that you have about their industry so you’re prepared during the conversation. Seek their advice: ask them what they wish they would have known when starting their first job.

In any networking situation, listen openly, ask if you can stay in touch, and express your thanks. While it can feel awkward to reach out to new people, recognize that many people enjoy discussing their passions and helping others out. Once you have further developed in your career, it will be your turn to pay it forward to new job seekers!

As you start to reach out to people, you will gain confidence in your networking process and learn more about what opportunities are available. Though your interests and career will evolve, your ability to make connections and grow will only get stronger.

Remember: there are always people willing to help. If you are in search of additional career advice and counseling, you can reach out to Piper Center Associate Director of Alumni Career Services Jenele Grassle. More resources and a link to book an appointment with Jenele are available on the Alumni Career Services page.