Alums offer real world smarts

by Jeremy Skog | 6/10/01 5:00am

A Dartmouth education offers many advantages to students, but one of the greatest benefits the College can offer to students looking for a job is its globe-spanning network of alumni.

This network is available to students in standardized form through Career Services via the Alumni Advisory Network, available on computer.

The Alumni Advisory Network database is searchable by such categories as industry, city, employer and even major. The network currently links students with 14,846 alumni of the College, of whom 1,849 have the word "President" in their title. The list is updated every six months with alumni who choose to participate during reunion surveys.

The diversity of the network is shown in the wide variety of industries represented, including legal, financial services, water, radio, aerospace and many more. Several hundred students use the service every year in order to find alums who can answer their questions.

Although advisors can provide a wealth of information on almost any topic from cost-of-living to industry trends, most questions are "about the job," according to Elizabeth Kadin '77, the senior vice president of Gerard, Klauer and Mattison, a financial services firm.

Most of the advisors participate in order to help current undergraduates and share some of their work experience.

"I love what I do and I'm happy to share with other people what the job is all about," Kadin said.

Marshall Newton '62, senior chemist for Brookhaven National Laboratory, said that he found it valuable to "help someone accomplish something of interest to them."

The network was started to "assist undergraduates in their career exploration, job search or graduate school choices by providing information," from alumni, according to a Career Services handout.

Sometimes the network can have more tangible benefits for students as in the case of John Goodman '60 of John Goodman Consulting.

Goodman said he at least one student has interned at his company after contacting him through the advising network. He did state that conversations "never involved jobs" only internships, though.

Goodman praised the network for the quality of people who contacted him through it, saying that it was "useful to have some interns and useful to have intelligent ones."

Alumni can provide students with a wide variety of information which can be useful in planning the next step in a career search.

"What better way to learn about [a job] than to talk to someone who's doing it every day," Kadin said.

The network has plenty of untapped resources for students looking to further their career search. Several alumni said that they have never been contacted by students. Others, such as Newton, said that they would be "perfectly happy to have more contacts."

Career Services also offers advice on recommended procedures for talking to alumni and offers an extensive list of suggested questions. Students are encouraged to seek advice from advisors, but the office emphasizes that the advisor's role is not to get students a job.