You’ve talked to friends and seen your academic and department advisors. You’ve gotten good advice, but you may be asking:
How can I get in touch with professionals in my field to learn more about what I need to know to plan my career?
How can I connect with people out in the real world, doing the kind of work I'll be doing when I graduate?
How do I find people to talk to so I can explore different career paths that interest me?
We’ve got the answer: UCAN (UAlbany Career Advisory Network).
UCAN is a free service offered by the UAlbany Alumni Association. This online database of about 2,000 alumni is accessible to all UAlbany students. You can search for an advisor on any number of criteria, including job type, company, region, and key words. Use the network as often as you like to connect with alumni around the globe for informational interviews, advice, and networking.
UCAN is housed in the Alumni Online Community. To search for an advisor, visit the UCAN homepage. You will be guided through a few easy steps to search for an advisor. If you haven't already registered/logged into the online community, you will be asked to do so before you conduct your search.
What else do you need to know?
What if I can’t find my name when I try to register for the Online Community?
- This is not a job placement service. Use UCAN to connect with alumni for advice only. Think of it as an informational interview. If it leads to something more, though, great!
You won't get a second chance to make a first impression. When you send an email asking an advisor to talk with you, remember this should be a professional communication. Proof it to ensure there aren't any errors. Use proper capitalization and punctuation. You want the alum to view you as a young professional, which won't happen if your email is full of errors or was put together hastily.
- Most of the “interviews” will be over the phone. If the alum is local, it’s possible he/she may be willing to meet in person. Ask the alum what he/she would prefer.
- Come to the “interview” prepared with a list of questions.
- Do some research about the alum’s job and company before the interview. Don’t waste time asking questions that you can find out on the company’s Web site or annual report.
- Don’t send your resume unless the alum asks for it. The focus of the meeting should be on gathering information, not obtaining a job.
- Don’t dominate the conversation. You should talk 25 percent or less of the time and listen for the rest.
- Keep track of time. When you contact the alum, set a time limit (15-30 minutes is reasonable). As the end of the timeframe nears, say “I asked for 30 minutes, and I want to be respectful of your time. Should we wrap up now, or should we keep talking?”
- Ask if it would be okay to contact the alum again if you have further questions.
- Follow up with an e-mail or handwritten note to thank the alum again for his/her time and insights.
Email email@example.com. In the subject line write: OLC Student Registration. In the body of the email, include your full name, class standing (e.g., sophomore, graduate student), expected graduation year, home address, birth date and student ID number.
Contact Melissa Samuels at the Alumni Association at firstname.lastname@example.org or (518) 442-3080.