One of the best ways students learn about options available to them after graduation is by observing and reflecting on those Earlhamites who have come before them. To this end, our office, in partnership with the Alumni Relations Office, coordinates the opportunity for students to connect with alumni through the Earlham Career Network (ECNet).
Connect to Alumni with ECNet
Students who would like to access ECNet for mentoring and networking opportunities should schedule an appointment with a Career Coach for more information. Your Career Coach can search ECNet for keywords relating to location, major, graduation date, and/or job title.
Once possible mentors are identified, we will then provide you with their contact information. We ask students to please remember to be professional and respectful when reaching out to alumni for career guidance. You can check the Email Etiquette tab on this page for tips about communicating professionally with alumni.
What is an informational interview?
An informational interview is an opportunity for you to ask questions of an alum or a professional in your field of interest. These interviews are not directly used to find jobs or internships, but are instead ways to gather information and gain insight into life after Earlham.
Informational interviews can help you find out more about your field of interest, learn about a certain company or organization, or understand a different perspective.
What should I ask in an informational interview?
Informational interviews are all about making connections and broadening your knowledge. Some potential questions include:
- Could you tell me about your career path?
- What was your first job out of Earlham or after college?
- What does a typical work day look like for you?
- What advice do you have for someone starting out in your field?
How do I find someone to interview?
Most people are open and willing to talk about their careers with young professionals. Reach out through your network of family and friends to find people working in your field of interest. You can also contact someone at a specific organization or company in which you're interested. If you would like to connect with alumni, visit the Career Education Office to learn about possible connections.
If you are looking to make a connection through email or social media, send a short and professional email to a person who works in a field or organization in which you are interested. In the email, make sure you:
- Include your name, college that you are attending, and major.
- Explain why you are interested in connecting with them (to ask for their advice for a young professional and to learn about their career path).
- Ask them for twenty minutes of their time, either to meet for coffee (locally) or to have a brief phone conversation at a time of their convenience.
- Thank them for their time and consideration.
Above all, be courteous and curious.
Reach Out Through Social Media
Social media is a powerful tool for connecting with family, friends, colleagues, and people in your field of interest. Always remember to:
- Be professional on all your social media sites
- Keep your content updated
- Be present by commenting positively on what you see
- Connect with others, especially in your field, and offer help whenever possible
Ways to Connect
Check out our Professionalism and Social Media resource and talk to a Career Adviser about how to make the most of social media.
LinkedIn is a professional networking site which allows you to connect with people in your field of interest and highlight your professional experiences and achievements. Having a LinkedIn profile is a great way to take control of your professional image online, connect with others in your field, and stay up-to-date with career-related news and information.
Check out this short video to learn more about how to use LinkedIn to connect with other Earlhamites:
Twitter is a social media tool which uses short status updates called "tweets" to connect people all over the world. Twitter allows you to connect with people who are outside your normal network of friends, family, classmates, and coworkers. Try following leaders in your fields of interest, and use hashtags to participate in relevant conversations.
Facebook is a social media site for connecting with friends and family. Facebook pages are also helpful for organizations and individuals looking to connect with their customers and partners. By "liking" pages that are related to your career field or areas of interest, you can stay up-to-date on the conversations and new developments in your field.
Email can be a great way to communicate with potential contacts in your field of interest--as long as your email doesn't come across in a negative light. Follow some of these quick tips to make sure your email etiquette is up to par.
- Use a professional email address. Avoid using email handles like "partygirl92" or "batman56." Create a professional email, ideally using your name as the handle. Your Earlham email is also appropriate for professional settings. You can always set up email forwarding so you don't have to check multiple email accounts.
- Use a professional greeting and closing. Although we are all on a first-name basis at Earlham, it's still a good idea to be professional and courteous in email. Don't start your email with "Hey." Sign off by using a phrase like "Sincerely," "All the best," or "Thank you."
- Be clear and concise. This applies to both the subject line and the body of the email. Create a subject line which directly refers to the subject of your email. In the body, make sure your language is clear and concise while still being polite. While you shouldn't use abbreviations or texting language (LOL, TTYL, etc.), you also don't want to lose your reader's attention by being too wordy or beating around the bush.
- Be polite. Saying "please" and "thank you" goes a long way, especially when you are asking something of someone. Reread your email before sending, paying attention to the tone. Could someone reading this email take it the wrong way? Remember that your readers will not have your tone of voice, facial expressions, and gestures to help them understand your meaning. Humor and sarcasm are especially hard to relay through email.
- Fill in the "To" field last. Avoid sending an email before it's finished by leaving the "To" field blank until you're ready to send. Remember, once an email has been sent, you can't get it back--and you also can't control who may receive it as a forward. This is a good point to remember before sending what could be perceived as a negative communication. Always make sure the words you send out into the world reflect a positive and professional image of you.
Sample Networking Email
Subject: Earlham Career Network
Dear Mr. Darwin,
My name is Jane Doe, and I am a second year student majoring in biology at Earlham College. I am interested in a career in biology and research, and my Career Coach suggested I contact you. I understand that your research involves the evolution of finches, a subject I am also interested in studying.
It would be very helpful to speak with someone who currently does the work which I would someday hope to pursue. I am interested in learning about the steps you took to become a researcher, as well as any career guidance you might be able to offer. Would you be willing to have a 20-30 minute phone conversation on this subject?
Thank you for your time and consideration.