Are you looking for some insider tips to help get the job you want or inspiration of what to do with your degree? Leeds student Beth Drury, who is currently undertaking a placement with the University Alumni department, gives you the lowdown on the Leeds Network.
Networking is one of the most effective ways to find out about different career options. The Leeds Network has hundreds of Leeds graduates from all over the world that can provide you with an insight into a particular role, sector or employer, and give you a realistic understanding of what a job is like. You can also find out the sorts of things you may need to consider to prepare for the career of your choice. What is great is all the Network volunteers are Leeds graduates; it is reassuring to know you have common background and experience.
So how can I find alumni that are of interest to me?
The Leeds Network has alumni profiles ranging from freelance radio presenters to directors of Pricewaterhouse Coopers and volunteers are continually being recruited to ensure you find inspiration. There are two search options to find alumni profiles.
The basic keyword search looks at the text in volunteer profiles. Keywords can be combined to narrow a search e.g.
- Journal – for journalists, journalism, journalist
- London – for alumni working in London
- Journal London – for journalists in London
The advanced search offers a number of filters (e.g. department of study, employment sector, type of work) and can be combined with the keyword search or used separately
You can simply read the career profiles or if you have particular questions you can contact alumni through the Network. Any alumni willing to answer questions will have a note on their profile.
What sorts of questions can I ask?
You can ask 20 questions per calendar month, relating to career and professional development. At the top of a profile you can see a selection of topics alumni have chosen to answer questions about.
Depending on which areas they have selected you can ask questions on:
- Recruitment procedures in a certain organisation
- The current job market in a particular field
- Advice on skills required for work in a certain profession
Tip: Read their career profile carefully to make sure that the information you seek has not already been answered. Take a look on their company website or the employer record on the Careers Centre’s vacancy & events system.
How do the emails work?
When you first send a question it sends internally through the Leeds Network. Their reply will be sent to your university email – here you will see their contact details and any further conversation will be through personal emails.
Do not expect a reply straight away; you should usually get a one within a few days. Obviously if they are on holiday or away from work for other reasons you may have to wait.
Think and prepare any questions you want to ask. One second-year French student did exactly this. She contacted a director at Rothschild with some thoughtful questions on the firm’s culture and distinctiveness, and what makes a good CV. She got extensive help; the email led to telephone discussions, and ultimately an offer of further help with internship applications and CV advice.
Tip: Alumni will only see your email address when you send a question, so remember to use your name when you sign off.
Leeds Network tips
- Remain professional – you’re talking to someone you do not know. Be positive and genuine about yourself, this may help you to make better use of the Network and retain connections.
- Prepare questions you would like to ask – do not just jump in asking any questions, decide exactly what you would like to know. The more prepared you are the more you will get out of it.
- They may not have all the answers – ask politely if they know alternative sources that may be able to help.
- Remember to thank them!
- Do not ask for a job – it is not the point! Alumni have volunteered to share their expertise and experience not organise work experience or a work permit to get you a job.
You may also be interested in “Linking in to Alumni” which outlines how you can use LinkedIn™ to find alumni, explore career paths and find out what other graduates of your degree have gone on to do.