Ten Ways to Make the Most of an MBA Alumni Network

Ten Ways to Make the Most of an MBA Alumni Network

MBA alumni networks can often be extremely beneficial to those on the MBA job hunt. A term used to refer to the close bond between those that attend or attended the same business school or MBA program, alumni networks can mean making the right connections to step up the career ladder.

Primarily, this is as a result of each business school’s emphasis on creating their own society, so that those MBA alumni who graduated decades earlier remain committed to their younger cohort, often helping them with introductions, mentorships, and recommendations.

TopMBA.com speaks to some of the top business schools in the world and highlights 10 methods in which business school alumni networks can improve an MBA’s career prospects.

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Giving back to the business school

Setting graduates on the right path to their ideal job is at the top of the to-do list of many MBA alumni networks.

Many of the top schools boast an MBA alumni network of thousands of business leaders worldwide who are at the helm of some of the largest corporations ranked in the Forbes 500.

Passing on their secret to success is a culture shared by business school alumni and is a definite benefit that MBA graduates and students should take full advantage of.

“Students are indoctrinated with the idea of giving back to the school in many ways, and helping others is certainly one of those ways,” says Andy Steele, executive director of development and alumni services at Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth in the US.

“Tuck has 9,000 alumni, most of whom are very active in helping students and other alumni find jobs. Our database is well used by both groups for networking purposes,” he explains.

Accessing worldwide industry leading positions

With a search engine full of contacts to some of the world’s most influential business moguls, active involvement with your business school’s MBA alumni network could open the doors to new and exciting opportunities.

With businesses globalizing, “graduates are working in industry leadership positions around the world: the US, Japan, China, Korea, Germany, the UK, India, Russia, Brazil, Singapore, Switzerland, Mexico, and literally dozens and dozens of other countries,” says Sheryle Dirks, associate dean of the career management center at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business in the US.

“Fuqua’s alumni numbers more than 16,000 graduates and the number increases by around 800 each year. There are another 140,000 Duke alumni who are part of the university community,” she adds.

‘Inside’ introductions

Networking through your business school’s alumni services should be made a priority in any MBA job search.

In some instances it could open up opportunities where graduates are introduced to some of the biggest names in business.

“In terms of job seeking, our alumni network is invaluable in China. China’s ‘guanxi’ [connections] based business culture makes ‘inside’ introductions an extremely effective means of networking and finding business partners or a new job,” says Dean John Quelch at China Europe International Business School (CEIBS), based in Shanghai, China.

Returning to business school to recruit MBAs

It is worth sending a CV and covering letter to your school’s alumni services. Well aware of the strengths in the school’s curriculum and faculty, many successful MBA alumni return to their business school to find their next appointee.

Rick Bertasi, managing director and global head of corporate real estate and services at Deutsche Bank, found Tuck’s alumni network very useful. He graduated from the US-based business school 24 years ago and over a 10-year period, has employed 12 Tuck graduates, two of whom were appointed to Deutsche Bank.

“I have used the alumni network extensively to find talented people. The network helps in the direct recruiting of students.

“I also contact the alumni that I’ve kept in touch with as a resource for recommended candidates who have the skill-set and background that I’m looking for.”

On-campus MBA recruitment

On-campus MBA recruitment, where business schools organize recruitment events or have in-house recruitment services, is further benefit of a business school’s MBA alumni network.

Duke’s Fuqua School of Business has established an MBA career management center that works directly with organizations to help them recruit.

“The Duke MBA career management center has a variety of flexible recruiting options ranging from résumé books to on-campus interviews that can help alumni identify graduates who can help their firms address today’s most significant global business issues,” says Dirks at Fuqua.

MBA internships

As with the potential of finding the ideal job, there is also the possibility of finding MBA internships through your alumni network, especially as many are in key recruitment positions.

“Some of our alumni offer internship opportunities for students as well as long-term job placement for graduates,” says Sherring NG, head of MBA program marketing and admissions at HKUST Business School in Hong Kong.

“Besides, alumni can always give good recommendations and refer students to the network necessary for their career development,” she adds.

Hands-on MBA job application help

The support of MBA alumni networks extend further than putting you in contact with the right people.

There are useful CV and covering letter workshops to help ensure that your application catches the attention of recruitment managers.

“Alumni conduct mock interviews with students to get them prepared for a real job interview. They also share industry knowledge with current students in alumni gatherings and seminars,” says NG.

Mentoring future business leaders of tomorrow

One of the key focuses of a business school’s MBA alumni network is helping to develop the careers of their graduates. Many do this through mentorship programs.

For example, CEIBS has developed a mentorship program that is delivered by experienced MBA alumni and executive MBA graduates and students. The aim is to mentor current MBA students on how best to achieve their career goals.

Life-long MBA contacts and business ralationships

Business schools have a strong ethos of maintaining life-long relationships with their MBA alumni, doing so through a number of working groups.

Many play a key role in some of the career services offered by schools such as alumni councils, advisory boards, and specific industry advisory groups in areas like health, and social entrepreneurship. Dipping into these services could aid in obtaining vital business contacts.

“Our alumni are actively engaged with Fuqua, serving in volunteer and advisory roles on Fuqua’s most significant initiatives, as well as lending their time and counsel to current students seeking wisdom and advice. Fuqua alumni have a life-long relationship with the school as well as with each other,” says Dirks.

IE Business School in Spain has developed what it refers to as a ‘structured’ networking service to encourage contact-building.

“IE has a net of 40,000 alumni spread all around the globe. In order to keep the network connected, the activities of alumni are structured in more than 200 different clubs and chapters which gather alumni geographically, as well as by field, industry interest, and affinities,” says Margarita Alonso, the school’s director of alumni and careers.

Sharing best practice through social media

Technological advances have stimulated a boom in online social networking websites which have evolved the way we network.

Business schools have taken this by storm with some adapting the ubiquitous social networking website to develop their own online alumni social network.

Fuqua School of Business is one of many business schools to do this with the development of DukeConnect, the university’s online career networking and mentoring tool.

“It gives alumni the opportunity to share their insights with current students on career goals, employer information, interview coaching, networking, regional information or résumé critiques,” says Dirks.

Written by QS Blogger
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