What you know is always important but, as the adage says, who you know also has its benefits. When Dartmouth students and alumni need help charting the course of their studies or of their lives following graduation, the best advice often comes from people who have gone down their path before.
"The most heavily used resource in our office is the Alumni Advisory Network," said Skip Sturman '70, Director of Career Services. "Networking is more important than ever and our alumni advisors are an invaluable resource in assisting undergraduates or other alumni in their career exploration, job searches or graduate school choices."
Updated daily with alumni who choose to participate through reunion surveys, the Alumni Advisory Network database includes over 13,000 names. When users go to the database, they're encouraged to use alumni contacts to help them strategize their next steps.
"During my freshman year, I wanted an internship that was close to home in the Washington, D.C., area," said Jessica Chen '07. "So I went to Career Services and looked up an alumnus there who had experience in international relations and economics." Chen's contact, Thomas Carter '63, who works for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), helped Chen find an internship with the Overseas Cooperative Development Council (OCDC), an organization that encourages the development and use of cooperatives, credit unions and savings and loan associations. "Mr. Carter was extremely friendly and helpful in my internship search process," said Chen.
Carter also had praise for Chen. "I was impressed by her seriousness of purpose and the speed with which she developed a working understanding of some rather complex issues related to cooperative development," said Carter. "She also managed to extract the essential elements from that information and to add her own mature and thoughtful analysis to the work she did for OCDC."
As an alumnus, James Tomczyk '04 also had a recent positive experience with the Network. "This past spring I was downsized from my job working for a West Lebanon, N.H.-based hedge fund. When this happened I decided I would use the opportunity to take a new direction in my career. I was interested in venture capital, so I used the Alumni Network to find 20 to 30 Dartmouth graduates with experience in the field.
"Although it was a bit intimidating to make the initial contact, everyone was phenomenal," he added. "They gave me so much of their time, put me in touch with colleagues, suggested some possible next steps and recommended books and journals. Then I made a call and was told 'We're actually hiring,' which led to my current job."
"The Alumni Advisory Network is also a good tool for career guidance," said Sturman. "The database helps broaden students' thinking about what careers are out there and what kind of zigging and zagging is done over the course of a career."
Sturman added that the Network is a helpful resource for students trying to select a major. "When students ask 'What can I do with a major in...' we can use the search tools to show them what alumni have done with those same degrees. This helps students envision what courses their lives might take."
The Alumni Advisory Network is becoming even more accessible for students and alumni. Previously only available at the Career Services office, it can now be found online for alumni through the Alumni Relations home page and will soon be accessible by students through the Career Services Web site.
By JOEL AALBERTS
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Last Updated: 5/30/08