If you are a recent graduate or longtime alum, you should know that you can still play a vital role on campus. Colleges and universities pride themselves on the accomplishments of their alumni and their willingness to give back in any way they can.
While we’ve all received the annual call from our alma mater asking for a monetary donation, there are certainly other ways you can ensure students have the right resources and educational tools for their future. If you find yourself in this situation and can’t donate money regularly, here are a few other ways you can give back with your time rather than your wallet:
Become a mentor or career coach
One of the most rewarding ways for you to give back to your alma mater is by volunteering to be a mentor or career coach to current students. Being able to guide students through the ins and outs of starting their career or traversing the job market can be extremely helpful for them. Putting yourself in a position where you can impart knowledge and critical career advice to young professionals is an invaluable experience to share with a mentee.
As technology and social media continue to change the ways in which we can communicate, there are a number of ways you can establish a connection with students. For example, using platforms like Twitter or LinkedIn allows you to connect with a broad audience (i.e., current students, recent graduates, etc.) on a variety of topics. On the other hand, using programs like Skype allows you to have one-on-one conversations with your mentee from your home or office. The more opportunities you have to coach current students through such important stages of their collegiate and professional careers, the more inspired you might be to find ways to play an even bigger role as an alum.
Attend or organize networking events more frequently
Networking events are some of the best ways for alumni to reconnect with their alma mater. However, you can take this a step further by creating your own events specifically geared towards alumni, current students, or young professionals in your area. Using sites like Meetup for networking events can serve as a better platform for like-minded professionals to come together to share their advice and experiences.
Similarly, participating in career panels can be just as helpful for students who want to hear from graduates working in a field they’re interested in. Not only can volunteering as a panelist help educate students about a particular line of business, but it might also enhance your reputation with your school as well as amongst professionals throughout your industry.
Offer your time to job shadow or provide internship experience
For a soon-to-be graduate, one of the best ways to get a taste of what life could be like after graduation is through direct exposure to a professional environment. Finding ways to help a student gain this professional experience through a shadowing program, for instance, can be another great way to give back as alumni. Offering students the chance to shadow you for a particular amount of time can give them insight into what a day or week in the life is like for someone in their field of interest. This experience can help students make a more informed decision on whether or not this profession would be the best fit for them.
Similarly, if you started your own business, creating an internship program geared towards recruiting students from your alma mater can help position young professionals for success. Not only will you be helping students gain a competitive edge through professional experience—something that can be essential to landing a first job—you might also inspire some aspiring entrepreneurs.
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