Making the Most of Your University and Alumni Networks, with Linda Favero

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Transcript

Mac Prichard:

This is Find Your Dream Job. The podcast that helps you get hired, have the career you want, and make a difference in life. I’m Mac Prichard, your host, and Publisher of Mac’s List.

Our show is brought to you by Mac’s List. It’s your best online source for rewarding, creative, and meaningful work. Visit macslist.org to learn more. You’ll find hundreds of great jobs, a blog with practical career advice, and our new book, “Land Your Dream Job in Portland and Beyond”.

Many Americans today have a college education. In fact, more than one out of five of us have a four year degree, and another four out of 10 of us have an associate degree. Now, a college education offers a lot of benefits, including resources that can help you with your job search. On today’s show we are going to discuss how to work with a university career services center. We’ll share our own experiences and talk with a national expert.

Before we do that, let’s check in with the Mac’s List team. Ben, Cecilia, how are you two doing this week?

Cecilia Bianco:

Doing well.

Ben Forstag:

I’ve got a little bit of head cold this week, so I’m going to sound extra nasally.

Mac Prichard:

You probably caught that cold just to help with your on the air voice.

Ben Forstag:

Exactly.

Mac Prichard:

This is a topic, working with college career center, that’s close to my heart. Let me explain why. Twice in my career, I’m in my mid 50s. I worked with someone at a career center, it made a huge difference. The first time, I was in my mid 20s. I was living in Boston. I was struggling. I’ve been out of work for six months. It came as a shock to me because my first few jobs, it come very easily. Now, in hindsight, I see that I had gotten lucky. I replied to ads, but I didn’t really know how to look for work.

My wife worked at Northeastern University and someone there at the career center said she’d be happy to sit down and talk with me. She shared the basics of goal setting, and networking. I used that information to find a great job in about six weeks, after being unemployed for a long time. That made a huge difference.

Later, when I was getting ready to move to Oregon, I worked with a career center at my graduate school. They again taught me skills, and how to work with an alumni office. Things I wouldn’t have known if I didn’t walk through that door.

What about you two? Have you had positive experiences working with your college career centers?

Cecilia Bianco:

Yeah. Going to my career center is what led me to the internship program that placed me with Mac’s List. They helped me out a ton.

Mac Prichard:

How about you Ben?

Ben Forstag:

I guess I’m the black sheep here. I was the kid who waited until a month before graduation before thinking about the career center, and walked in, hoping they could find me a job when I graduated. It didn’t worked out well.

Mac Prichard:

You were actually light years ahead of me because when I was an undergraduate at the University of Iowa, I don’t think I even knew where the career center was. I still don’t. Kudos to you for walking through the door.

Ben Forstag:

Better late than never.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah. We’ll hear more about this. We’ll be talking to this weeks expert, Linda Williams Favero, who runs a career center at the University of Oregon. Before we do that, let’s check in with our team. Every week, Ben is out there searching through the internet looking for those blogs, and podcast, and other tools you can use in your job search.

Ben, what have you uncovered this week?

Ben Forstag:

This week Mac, I wanted to share a feature I just discovered on LinkedIn. It’s called LinkedIn Youniversity. That’s Youniversity, Y-O-U, university. It’s available on linkedin.com/edu. We all know that LinkedIn is a great networking tool in part because it’s it’s this huge database of personal, and professional information.

LinkedIn Youniversity is a simple tool for sifting through all of that data to find meaningful professional contacts. In this case, contacts based around alumni affiliation.

Mac Prichard:

Just to pause there. This isn’t on the LinkedIn site. Is this an app that people download?

Ben Forstag:

This is on the actual website, linkedin.com/edu.

Mac Prichard:

OK. You can follow that URL, or go to the main page?

Ben Forstag:

Yeah. I would suggest you do this on a desktop. There’s a lot of data that’s coming through here.

Now, a lot of this functionality that I’m going to be talking about existed before, but it was cumbersome to use. It was often hidden, and you had to dig around to find it. LinkedIn Youniversity is a much more user friendly way of organizing this data. Here’s what so cool about it. It has something for everyone. Regardless of the stage of life you’re in, or the professional status you have.

For young adults, or professionals who might be considering going back to grad school for example, the Youniversity Finder tool will help you select schools, and programs depending on what your career goals are. This is really cool because it works backwards. You pick your desired outcome in terms of what you want to do for a career, or where you want to live. What kind of activities you want to do. You enter this into the system, and LinkedIn cross references what you’ve put in across all of its users, and pops out the names of universities that those users have gone to. Who most closely match what you want to do.

I brought my trustee computer here. I’m going to show you a quick example. For example, let’s say I really know that what I want to do is advertising, put that in. I want to work at Nike, in the Portland area. Perhaps I want to be in their digital marketing department.

Mac Prichard:

I’m amazed by your speed typing.

Ben Forstag:

I’m really good. The top hit here for all the users in LinkedIn who have meet this criteria, advertising, Nike, Portland, and marketing, you’ll never guess. It’s the University of Oregon. LinkedIn tells me that there’s a 108 OU alumni who have the dream job I just described. Now, I can connect with those users, or perhaps starts networking with them, or use some as mentors to help me get to where they are right now. It’s really cool.

For established professionals, the Alumni Tool can help you build your own network by connecting you with fellow alumni. Much like the Youniversity Finder tool, you can search for alumnus by any combination of location, employer, job title, job function skills, shared connections, and so forth. LinkedIn then cross references all of this across the database and pops out people who meet your criteria. Let me bring back my computer here.

This time, I want to look for folks from my alma mater, American University. It’s a really long title. Who live in Portland, who work for Nike, they do marketing, and again, let’s say I really want to get specific and say in the digital advertising. There’s one person here in Portland who matches all those criteria. If I really want to get into Nike, and talk to that person in network, this is the best way I can find them.

Again, a lot of this functionality existed before, but it’s just a really cool visual way to get all of that data and organize it, and find the right people you need to meet, and talk to. I suggest you check it out. It’s linkedin.com/edu.

Mac Prichard:

That’s a great suggestion. As we’ll hear later from Linda, many universities do have online databases of alums, but many don’t. This is one alternative for people who are trying to find graduates from their university or college who are working their field, or for an employer they want to connect with.

Ben Forstag:

Yeah, it’s great. Actually, one of the funny things is when I was researching this, I found two people who I already know in Portland, who actually share my alma mater with me. We had know idea that we are all eagles.

Mac Prichard:

Thanks, Ben. Do you have a suggestion for Ben? Drop him an email. His address is ben@macslist.org. He is always standing by with that keyboard, and waiting to hear from you.

Speaking of listening to you, our audience, it’s time to hear from Cecilia Bianco, our Community Manager. She joins us, as she does every week to answer one of your questions.

Cecilia, what’s the question of the week?

Cecilia Bianco:

Our question this week is, “Should I list every job I’ve ever had on my resume?” My answer for that is no because including jobs that don’t support why you’re the right fir for specific position can crowd your resume. Employers, as well as online application systems are looking for keywords, and specific qualification. It’s going to help you standout more if your resume is tailored, and straight to the point with only the relevant experience that shows why you’re the right fit for the job.

Mac, as someone who’s hired many employees. What’s your opinion on that?

Mac Prichard:

I think your advice is very sound here. You want to describe the jobs that … You want to list the jobs that matter. After you’ve been in the work force for a number of years, you may find that you take temporary positions that last three, six , even 12 months that just aren’t relevant. five, 10, 15 years later, because you’ve changed fields, or you’ve developed a different set of skills. Conciseness, and relevance as you recommend Cecilia makes all the difference.

Cecilia Bianco:

I definitely think it’s important. I know that a lot of people worry, they don’t want to have employment gaps on their resume, but it’s sometimes better to just list the relevant. If they asked about a gap, you can explain that, and why you left it out. Eventhough it’s challenging to remove jobs sometimes for whatever reason. People get attached to listing every job, and feel weird to take it out, it often doesn’t really help your case. You want to focus on the skills, and experiences that speak directly to the job you’re applying for.

If you don’t have any directly relevant experience, you can work on framing the experience you do have to be applicable to the job in question. For example, if you’re applying for a communications job, but don’t have experience doing communications work, just think about how your past jobs demonstrate that you’re a good communicator, which can be simple things like leading a meeting, or finding solutions to problems in the office, or mentoring a younger colleague. Anything that really shows you have the skills you need to be good at the job. Even if you haven’t written that communications audit, or launch a successful campaign.

Mac and Ben, anything to add to that?

Ben Forstag:

How would you suggest people talk about gaps in their resume?

Cecilia Bianco:

Well, if they took it out just because it wasn’t relevant to the position they’re applying for. It’s fine to just say that. If they took it out for another reason, that depends on the case. There’s a lot of different ways to pivot from employment gaps. You can find tips for that on our blog.

Mac Prichard:

Great, good. Thank you. If you have a question for Cecilia, please let her know. You can write here directly. Her email address is cecilia@macslist.org.

These segments by Ben and Cecilia are sponsored by the Mac’s List Guides and publisher of our new book, “Land Your Dream Job in Portland and Beyond.” Those guides give you the tools you need to get the job you want. We’ll show you how to crack the hidden job market, standout in a crowded field, and how to manage your career.

The book has eight chapters. Each of them, you’ll find experts who shared job hunting secrets like how to hear about positions that are never posted, and what you can do to interview, and negotiate like a pro. You can get the first chapter of the book for free. Just visit our website macslist.org/macslistguides.

Linda Williams Favero is a Program Director at the University of Oregon’s Alumni Career Services Office. She works with students, recent graduates, and alumni. Her goal is an important one. She helps people start job searchers, make professional connections, and manage careers.

Linda, thank you for joining us today.

Linda Favero:

Thank you for having me.

Mac Prichard:

It’s a pleasure. I’d had such terrific experiences in my own career working with university career service offices. I think a lot of people don’t know what they’re doing, and how they can help students, and recent graduates. Why don’t you tell us, give us an overview of what a student, or a recent graduate can expect to find if they walk in to a career services office at their college.

Linda Favero:

You’re right, a lot of people don’t utilize them as effectively as they can. In fact, they’re are some staffs that say students, and recent graduates only use them about 10 to 20% of the population actually uses at career center. Some of the things that we hear from students are, “Well, I didn’t need a job when I was in school.” Not recognizing that this really are professionals that can help you in your career, advancing it. Even just helping you figure out what you want to do.

There’re lots of different resources. Some people have such different styles. Some people like one on one, some people likes small group, some people like the big networking events where they can hide. In most career centers, there is something for everybody.

Mac Prichard:

I certainly had that experience the two times I worked closely with the university at career center. The experience that you talked about. I would walk in and there’d be hardly anybody there. I was surprised because in both instances, I got invaluable help that made a huge difference in finding my next job.

I have to say that I talked to my fellow students at the time. Most, when they thought about career centers at all, they had this idea that it was a place where recruiters might gather, and interview people. As you say, it’s a lot more than that. What is your best advice about how to start if you’re both either a student, or recent graduate, or an alum? I think a lot of alums don’t think about calling centers like yours after they’ve left the university for example.

Linda Favero:

I have two points to make on that. One is, it’s really important to develop a relationship with one of the counselors, or the advisers. If you’re a student, really starting in the early stages of doing that because they can be such an amazing advocate in getting to know you, and knowing opportunities, and what might be the right fit for you. That would be the primary thing. Then, they can coach you depending on your style. What interests you, how you should be involved in campus, and more involve with the career center.

I’d like to address the a lot recent graduate, and alumni points even further because that is a new phenomenon with a lot of career centers. That they have this services called alumni career services, and your professional organization. Looking into your university, seeing do they offer alumni career services, and now alumni associations, as well are starting to offer these services.

There’s actually two ways that you can strategize in terms of identifying this context.

Mac Prichard:

Let’s break that down in to two groups. We’ve got students who are listeners. They’re getting ready to walk though the door of the career center. They want to have that relationship. What are practical steps they can take, students to do that?

Linda Favero:

One of the things I would recommend is a lot of times they offer drop-in services. I don’t actually recommend that. It’s better to identify one person that you’re going to invest your time in. Most centers got multiple career counselors. Really, make it regular habit of going in there and seeing them. Maybe once a quarter. Whatever your schedule allows, but starts to really develop that rapport. Start to have them understand your interest, your strengths, your experiences, and begin to articulate by creating your materials, and really taking that throughout your four years. Either at a undergraduate level, or at a graduate level as well.

Mac Prichard:

If you’re a student, get yourself down to the career center and try to do it on a regular basis. What about people like me? I graduated from the University of Iowa in 1980. It’s been 3five years. I haven’t been in a reunion, and I’m doing a job search. What advice would you give someone, whether they’ve been out 35 years, or five, or 10 years to reach out to a career center. Especially if it’s perhaps across the country.

Linda Favero:

Yes, that’s an excellent question. I know that for people that have attended the University of Oregon, I did many Skype and phone appointments. Again, reach out to the career center, and see if this services are available. With a lot of public institutions, there might be some free services that you might not be aware of.

With public institutions, they aren’t always able to have it free for a lifetime with private institutions. For instance, at U of O, you can have free services for one year post graduation. Then, every alum gets one free appointment with the career counselor. If they choose to purchase additional services, they can do that.

With private institutions, a lot of times you can have it for free. You might start to develop a relationship with the counselor then. You also might really want to connect with the chapters. Most universities have chapters. The further you go away from your university, the more people want to connect, support you, and hire those people that they went to school with. They have that strong affinity, and they feel that connection.

Mac Prichard:

You’re making a really important point there because one of the best resources that I’ve had access to in my job searches over the years, and I see many other people benefit from this too are those alumni networks. My experience has been that most universities and colleges have online databases now with the names of graduates, and contact information, but I see people struggle when I talk to them in informational interviews about how to get started.

What advice do you have Linda for listeners who think, “OK, I went to this college. I’d like to reach out to alums in my community.” How do I do that? What should I ask for? What should I expects?

Linda Favero:

LinkedIn is actually your best resource for that. I know that some universities have those online directories, but I have to say a lot of people aren’t great at keeping their contact information updated in all those different areas. Where LinkedIn is stuff where people are using it on a continual basis.

I would really make sure that you are connected with the official site. Sometimes, universities have multiple LinkedIn groups. Many universities now, because it’s a big push from LinkedIn have this official sites where you have to be bedded as a faculty staff, alum, or a student. Then you know you really are reaching your university contacts.

Then there’re wonderful searches. I can’t show it to you on the podcast where you can do some advance searches where you clog in the city, and your university. Then it starts to populate. All these contacts that you might have. It’s possible your university doesn’t have a chapter in your area. Maybe you could even start, and gather someone at a local pub, or a local brewery, or a restaurant, or something like that. Just start to reach out. I guarantee you, other people will be grateful that you’ve taken the initiative.

Mac Prichard:

I have moved around a number of times over the years to different parts of the country. I’ve always found that there is a Club for the University of Iowa, or an alumni club for my graduate school at Harvard. They have events, social events, and it’s a great way to meet people in person.

Linda Favero:

Absolutely, because people want to hire people the liked. They want to connect with people that they has something in common with. That’s a really easy place to start.

Mac Prichard:

People hire people they know, like, and trust.

Linda Favero:

Yeah.

Mac Prichard:

It’s the same with how they want to do business.

Linda Favero:

That’s right.

Mac Prichard:

You’ve talked about networks, and reaching out to alums. What about professors? In your experience, do you see students, and graduates … Do they work with professors, and job searches? How do they do that successfully?

Linda Favero:

It really depends on the professor, and depends on the field. Some professors are really great about meeting their network. Especially if it was a class where they brought in outside speakers, or people that understood the field. They can be great resources to reach back out to them. Just like anybody, depending on how many years out you are. If you’re not maintaining that relationship overtime, unfortunately, professors have so many students. It’s hard to keep track of them.

Treat them just like you would treat any other contact that you see as a long term relationship, professionally. Make sure they’re staying up to date on what you’re looking for, what your interested in, what your relationship was like when you were a students, or a recent grad. It’s just like any other relationship, and it has to be cultivated.

Mac Prichard:

That’s a great point. I often here from a graduates of the university, “Wow, gosh. I thought about reaching out to other grads, but why would they want to help me? What’s in it for them? Secondly, how can I help them?”

Linda Favero:

I love that. Everyone has been in the shoes of someone looking for a job, and they’ve been there. If those people have had that experience of being supported by alums when they were trying to make their way in doing informational interviews. I have to say, the people that … I have people, I’ve been doing this for seven years now, and people contact me often who have landed jobs that they love, and say, “How can I give back? Can I do an informational interview? Can I speak on a panel? Is there someone interested on my field?” I get to keep this pool of people who are interested, or they’ll say, “Linda, I need to hire somebody. Have you seen any good candidates come through your office recently?”

I really encourage people to reach out to fellow ducks, or whoever your mascot might be. People want to give it back. They really needed it when they were there, and they’re ready to return it. Of course, you have to be respectful of their time, and follow all those rules that trade a successful informational interview. I really do see that ducks like to help ducks, and I think you’d find that at any university.

Mac Prichard:

Besides career centers like yours, and staying connected with other graduates, and perhaps, in keeping those relationships going with professors, what other resources are available to job seekers in the university community? That people should take a look at? Particularly ones they might not be aware of?

Linda Favero:

Once you develop a relationship hopefully with a counselor, you’ll be aware that there are things like job search groups, professional development workshops, and networking events. People need to develop the confidence to go to those events because that’s where you get to build more of those relationships that you have with the Ducks.

Agencies, local radio stations, they come to our events, and they hire local people. We have an event happening tomorrow night. I just had someone contact me from an ad agency that have five jobs. She’s going to come to the event, and look for ducks to hire because she’s a duck herself. We helped her get launched when she was a recent graduate.

It’s really important to go to those events. Bring a fellow alum with you because the people are out there. They want to hire people like you because people hire people they know, and they trust.

Mac Prichard:

That’s terrific. We’re coming to the end of our time together. What is the one piece of advice you would give to somebody who’s thinking about reaching out to career center, or staying connected with the university?

Linda Favero:

I would say, just don’t wait. Number one thing that people say is, “I’ve been looking on Craigslist’s for six months, and I can’t find anything.” By the time they come to me, they’re at a low point. Instead of really starting with the career center. Knowing, “I need to look for a job.” That’s such a more positive way to launch your job search, than waiting until you’ve exhausted all of your own personal resources behind the computer, and feeling really discouraged.

Don’t be afraid. We are here to help. We love it. The people that come our way from this feel very encouraged, and relieved when they walk out the door. Just don’t wait. Just reach out.

Mac Prichard:

Linda, thank you so much. This has been very helpful. How can people find you online?

Linda Favero:

Well, if you’re a Duck, please reach out to me. I’m at lfavero@uoregon.edu or you can go to career.uoregon.edu. I would love to get you launched, and do job search.

Mac Prichard:

For those of us who are not fortunate enough to go to the University of Oregon, do you have resources, or online tools, or sites you’d like to share with people?

Linda Favero:

I do. I actually have my own consulting business because that was developed from people saying, “I didn’t go to the University of Oregon, but I’d love to work with you.” I actually have my private practice. You can just go to lindafavero@gmail.com, or my website at lindawfavero.com.

Mac Prichard:

Thank you Linda. It’s been a pleasure.

Linda Favero:

Great. Thank you.

Mac Prichard:

We’re back in the studio. With me as always are Ben, and Cecilia. Any surprises from Linda’s suggestions? Cecilia?

Cecilia Bianco:

Not any surprises necessarily just because I’m a duck as well. She’d mention the ducks multiple times, and the services they have. I utilized almost all of those, but that’s me being an OCD planner. Not surprised, but she had some great, great advice.

Mac Prichard:

Good. Ben, how about you?

Ben Forstag:

Linda nailed it on the head of what I was doing wrong when I was in college. Showing up a month before graduation. I really like the idea of building a relationship with one person in the career center office, so that that person gets to know you, and can become an advocate for you. I did not do that. That’s probably why I didn’t get great value out of my experience there.

Mac Prichard:

One piece of advice I wished I had followed was maintaining relationships with my professors. I’ve been very good about staying in touch with classmates from graduate school, in particular. Like you Cecilia, I have that same OCD trait. I’m actually the chair of the reunion committee for my graduate school.

We’re having our 25th reunion next May. You don’t have to chair a committee, or even go to the reunion every five years to stay in touch with your classmates. Aside from the professional benefits, I can’t tell you that the value of the friendships. How valuable they are as years go by.

Ben Forstag:

I have a question for you guys. Who is the most famous alum from your school?

Cecilia Bianco:

From UofO, I’m sure you guys all know, Phil Knight.

Ben Forstag:

That makes sense.

Cecilia Bianco:

Maybe I should say that more confidently. I know Phil Knight. It’s Phil Knight.

Mac Prichard:

At the University of Iowa. I don’t think he’s a graduate, but there was professor of astronomy, James Van Allen. There’s a series of radiation belts around the earth that are named the Van Allen belts.

Cecilia Bianco:

Wow.

Mac Prichard:

How many people have objects, and space named after them?

Ben Forstag:

I’ve got you both beat.

Cecilia Bianco:

OK, great.

Mac Prichard:

American University, right?

Ben Forstag:

American University, Washington DC. Willard Scott.

Mac Prichard:

How can we top that?

Well, we’ll do our best next week. We’ll be back with more stories. More importantly, more tools and tips you can use to find your dream job. In the meantime, visit us at macslist.org. You can signup for our free newsletter.

If you hear what you like on our show. Not only subscribe to our newsletter where you find hundreds of great jobs, but leave a review, and a rating for us on iTunes. This helps us reach other job seekers, and helps others discover our show. Thanks for listening.

Most colleges and universities provide career advising services to their current and former students. Yet only 10-20% of all students and alumni ever use of their university career center. And even fewer use their alumni association as a resource after graduation.

Are you making the most of your alma mater?

This week’s guest, Linda Williams Favero, explains how career centers function, the services they provide for students, and the opportunities available through your alumni association. She shares tips on how to make the most of your university career, even if it’s been many years since you graduated. Linda also talks about the importance of maintaining a connection with your alumni association. Speaking about her own experience at University of Oregon, she notes: “Ducks like to help Ducks… and you’ll find that at any university.”

This Week’s Guest

Linda Williams Favero is the Assistant Dean of Student and Career Services at the University of Oregon, where she ensures all students have the resources they need to be successful with their academic pursuits and beyond. She provides career services specifically for graduate students in Portland and recent UO graduates looking for employment in the region.

Linda also runs an independent coaching firm for organization and individual development.

Resources from this Episode