Guest Article: Alumni Liaison Specialist Emma Hartley on Connections for Career Success


November 21, 2022

You hand in your last paper, sit your last exam, and then glance over your schedule – clear for the first time in years – and wonder ‘Well, now what?’. For many graduates, the leap from education to your first or next step in the working world can feel dizzying. Sometimes family and friends don’t quite get it. Who does? Alumni.  

Graduates who have gone before you understand your path. They know the skills, knowledge, resilience, and expertise you have earned over your degree. And, as working professionals, they understand the trends and demands of the field you are about to step into.  

Could it be that alumni are the great untapped resource in your post-grad job search? 

How to Find Alumni  

Yorkville’s LinkedIn Alumni Pageis a great place to start. It is a current, extensive directory of alumni, easily searchable by location, company, year, and keywords such as program or company. Browsing the page is a fantastic way to learn about career path options related to your degree and it is a great tool to identify professionals you can reach out to. 

Did you know we also have an official Facebook Alumni community? Yorkville Alumni’s Facebook group is a space where you can connect with other graduates, and hear about job openings, professional development opportunities and helpful career planning resources.  

Building Alumni Relationships

Connecting with alumni via informational interviews is an exceptionally effective networking method. What’s an informational interview? A coffee chat. An informal 1:1 where you gain intel, from those in the know, about a particular career path or organization. These opportunities can help you craft a more strategic job search and make connections in your field.  

5 Top Tips for Alumni Coffee Chats: 

  1. Clearly define your ask: You’ve found an alumnus you want to chat to, but before you reach out, define WHY it is you want to connect. Are you exploring career paths and looking to hear more about their role? Applying to the same company? Looking for perspectives on further education? Clearly communicating what it is you want to learn from them is key to using their (busy) time wisely.  
  2. Do your research: At every stage of networking, research helps! Looking into their career path online first can help you craft a personalized outreach email that’s more likely to get responses. Tell them exactly what it is about their career path or role that impresses you.  
  3. Reach out directly: A referral through a mutual contact is ideal. Finding a direct work email is the next best thing. If you are struggling to find their email address, try Mailscoop, and once it suggests an email address, you can confirm it using MailTester (Source: Cultivated Culture). A direct LinkedIn message may also work, but first, check how active they are on that platform.If your initial email doesn’t yield results, send a polite, brief ‘nudge’ email after 7-10 days. 
  4. Be prepared: Yay! You’ve confirmed a meeting, now it’s time to prep. Make sure you reconfirm your meeting time a few days beforehand, test your tech if it’s on Zoom or know your route if it’s in person. Do your research so you have at least 10 questions you want to ask. Remember, you’re the one asking for the informational interview, so be the one to start the conversation, introduce yourself and keep track of the time! 
  5. Follow up: Following any 1:1 meeting, remember to send a THANK YOU email within 24 hours. And keep in touch, let them know how their advice has helped you on your post-grad journey.  

For more detailed tips, check out Yorkville’s Career Services Portal on how to reach out, prepare and make the most of these meetings. 

Stay Connected With Us

I’m new to Yorkville University and so is my role – Alumni Liaison Specialist – embedded within the Career Services team. It’s my mission to cultivate an engaged, motivated alumni community who support Yorkville students in their career journeys. 2023 will see the launch of a pilot mentorship program with MACP students (similar offerings will be rolled out across all programs over time); a Job Search Bootcamp for new BBA graduates, and a quarterly scheduled ‘I’ve Graduated…Now What?’ support session. And this is just the beginning. 

Why stay connected post-graduation? 

Yorkville staff and services remain on hand to support you through your next steps, to celebrate your successes and connect you with other alumni. Here’s what’s in it for you: 

  • 6 months free career advising from Yorkville’s Career Services team 
  • 6 months access to Yorkville’s exclusive job board 
  • Year-round free professional development webinars 
  • Hear first about new alumni programming and opportunities, stay tuned to our Facebook group for new offerings 

If you are an alumni interested in hearing about opportunities to volunteer, mentor or share your story, please contact us at [email protected]

We look forward to staying in touch and following all your future successes! 

About the Author

Emma Hartley (she/her) is a Career Educator who has supported thousands of emerging professionals through community building, career advising and job search support. Prior to Yorkville, she worked with students and alumni at Toronto Metropolitan University as a Career Education Specialist and as a Committee Chair for the media training non-profit, POV. She has a 15-year background in film and TV, working in Canada, US and UK. In her spare time, she runs the grassroots organization, Start in Screen.