Making Connections

Everyone knows the old adage “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Nowhere is this more true than during your job search. Although many people find positions through traditional routes, more often than not, you have a better chance of finding out about opportunities, getting referrals, and landing the position of your dreams when someone in the field can vouch for you. The wise job seeker meets and maintains connections with many people in and outside of their field of interest to maximize exposure. Remember to network with your fellow graduate students, former coworkers, and meet new people as often as possible. It is never too early in your graduate career to start making connections.


LinkedIn is a free social media site focused on professional networking. Similar to Facebook and Twitter, you are virtually connected to people you know (both personally and professionally) and “follow” organizations or businesses that interest you (Laney Graduate School, for example). LinkedIn connects you with people in your field, shares a virtual summary of your work experiences and goals, and showcases your projects. You can seek out individuals for informational interview by exploring your network of connections. (Then, you can ask your connection to virtually introduce you, and thus avoid the dreaded “cold-call”). You should also create a profile that list your skills and strengths, even get endorsements or short recommendations for your work.

Informational Interviews

Although some people spend a lot of time preparing for job interviews, many do not realize the benefit of doing informational interviews. An informational interview is a conversation with someone to learn more about a particular field, industry, job or career path. These conversations range from informal to very formal and with people you know or with perfect strangers. The key is to prepare for them by figuring out 1) what you want to know and 2) what you want to get out of the experience. Be open to speaking to as many people as you can. Although one can do informational interviews at any stage of their job search, it is best to do them early and often, as soon as you develop an interest in a particular field or job. You will learn valuable information about the culture and what they typically look for in candidates, and you will have met someone who can possibly make additional introductions and/or alert you to future opportunities.

Finding Alumni

Laney Graduate School’s biggest asset is their alumni base, one that you will soon join. Who better to assist you in navigating life beyond graduate school than someone who remembers what it was like? There are many opportunities through LGS to connect with alumni. One of which are Professional Development programs that feature alumni speakers, including Pathways Beyond the Professoriate. Another resource is Mentors on Call, which links LGS students with alumni in their field that have expressed an interest in mentoring. If you are interested in being introduced to someone working in a specific field or part of the country and they aren’t listed as a Mentor, feel reach out to Robin Harpak, Associate Director of Development and Alumni Relations, to see if she has other alumni contacts who may be relevant.