On Thursday I had the pleasure of going to back to the place where I earned my MSW, Monmouth University. They were holding a special alumni lecture that 1. offered free continuing education credits (this is like being offered gold in the social work community) and 2. there was free breakfast and lunch. It was almost like I hit the continuing education lottery! No way was I passing that up!
But in all seriousness, I love Monmouth’s social work program. I’m slightly biased because I worked in the office for two years as a graduate assistant, but I learned so much during my time there and met some of my closest and dearest friends. They weren’t afraid to talk about things that made you slightly uncomfortable (which is necessary in the field of social work) and it’s here that I learned what my career path really should be. With a little bit of guidance and one woefully terrible internship experience, my supervisor in the office’s prediction became reality. I was made for research, not therapy. How can I possibly bash a place that helped me understand my true calling?
Anyway, this alumni lecture is the first of hopefully many similar events. I’m not saying they always have to give me free CEUs (although that would be awesome), but it always feels good to see old friends and meet some new contacts. Alumni networks (either undergraduate or graduate) can hold a golden ticket to your future you weren’t even aware of. Here are 3 great reasons to stay connected to your school’s alumni network!
Lifelong learning. Remember how I mentioned those CEUs earlier? I bet some of you need similar educational credits if you hold any type of license. Well, your alumni network is sure to be able to hook you up to all different types of lectures and learning events. Even if you don’t need any type of credits, I regularly get e-mails about different ongoings like the annual International and Community Development lecture (that was my concentration so I’m a softy for going). No matter what way you look at it, your old school can give you plenty of new things to learn as you grow in your career and personal life.
Networking. Your alumni group and subsequent alumni events allow you more than just time to catch up with old friends. It gives you a network of individuals that are probably in the same, or similar, field as you are. Conversation becomes much easier when you already have a common starting point making networking with alumnus less awkward and awful. At this particular event, they had individuals from as far back as the 1970s! That’s a lot of interesting career paths and a lot of people who are probably now in supervisory roles. Get on that list and make a few new contacts in case you ever need them!
Job postings and general information. Our alumni network (which happens to have a Facebook page too) is really, really great at posting current employment opportunities. I see a new post almost daily and it reminds me that if I’m ever looking for a new place to go, they’re definitely a great resource. Not only do they keep me up-to-date with that kind of stuff, they post a lot of general information about the school. For example, the school is up for reaccredidation and there will be a session for alumni to talk with reviewers. Not only is it a great way for me to help them out, it could connect me with a few people who are doing a job I might want to do in the future (look for an opportunity whenever you can!). By being connected on both Facebook and through e-mail, I’m privy to a ton of information that helps my career.
The moral of the story is, if you’re not connected to your college’s alumni network, you should be. And, if you’re interested in social work programs in New Jersey (especially in international and community development/non-profit work) check out Monmouth University’s School of Social Work (I know, shameless shout out, but I’m a proud alum who got her start there and is only moving up thanks to them!).
Now, it’s your turn. How has being connected to your alumni network helped you?