Liberal arts colleges can encourage alumni networking

For some students, filling out college applications, balancing work and studies and successfully completing their degrees can be a substantial accomplishment. However, depending on a student's major, the search for work in their field can be even more challenging. To help current students make connections, some former alumni of Reed College have pledged to assist them by offering advice and networking opportunities, reports Inside Higher Ed.

The Reed Alumni Switchboard was created by former Reed students to help their younger counterparts find jobs in competitive industries such as television. As part of the initiative, every time a Reed student reaches out for help, alumni donate $40 to the school. Although this may not seem like much, it could make a difference in the long run.

Sonya Masinovsky, a psychology graduate, went on to found a nonprofit organization after she left Reed, in addition to working on the hit TV show Lost. She said that connections like the ones forged through the Switchboard could be invaluable to recent graduates.

"The possession of an alumni referral is a big one," Masinovsky told the news source. "If a Reedie comes to me looking for an internship, I’m going to want to hire them. We have a common background and work ethic."

Networking can be a vital part of the academic experience for today's students, no matter what school they attend. According to the Burlington Free Press, many students filling out college applications are placing more emphasis on the value of forging professional relationships with alumni. David Bradbury, president of the Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies, told the newspaper that alumni are more than just former students – they are often employers and social connections who can provide individuals with access to internships, career advice and referrals to other professionals.

Liberal arts colleges are excellent places for students to take advantage of alumni networking opportunities. In a recent article for The Huffington Post, Christopher Nelson, president of St. John's College in Annapolis, Maryland, wrote that the smaller class sizes and close-knit communities often observed at liberal arts schools were an ideal way for students to form bonds with alumni, something that could be tremendously beneficial in a competitive job market.

If you're considering filling out a college application for a liberal arts school, ask your college admissions adviser about alumni networking programs offered by your prospective schools. These groups might just help you make valuable connections with future colleagues, employers and mentors.

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