Back to School: Tapping Your Alumni Network

We are a few weeks into the new school year, with all the back to school shopping and morning bus rides that come with it. Going back to school isn’t just for students, though. As students, those schools gave us the skills we need. As professionals, our alumni networks are a tremendous professional resource.

The DC area has many transplants from across the country which contribute to thriving alumni communities. When it comes to the strength of weak ties, there are few groups that compare with alumni networks. With the only common thing being a school and the city you’re in, you are bound to connect with people from industries you’d otherwise never be aware of, and professional opportunities you would never have seized. Whether you are a young professional looking for career advice or mid-career and looking to reach the next level, the alumni network can help you make the next move.

Becoming active in your alumni community (or communities, DC is the most educated city in the country after all) is a great way to foster these connections.

  • Attend events. The simplest first step is to just show up. Pick an event and show up. Introduce yourself to the organizer. Be the new kid and meet people. If you share the school experience, you’ll always have something to talk about.

  • Organize an event. Take initiative and create an opportunity to build your personal brand. Organize and moderate a panel on a topic you’re passionate about (it doesn’t have to be your day job). Lead a walking tour and meet people who share your interests. Put together a happy hour and be the face of the college for an evening. Whatever you choose to organize, make sure you

  • Lead. If your alumni community is a little disengaged, step up to the plate and turn it around. Become a catalyst. Or, if your community is already active, look for opportunities to lead subcommunities. Maybe one day, run for a position on the board.


Do you stay involved in your alumni community? How have you benefited from that participation?

Ngiste Abebe is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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