Alumni Career Connections Best Practices

How can I help students as an alumni career connection?

Mentoring happens every day in a variety of settings. Oftentimes a student just needs an answer to a quick question (“What is the best mode of public transportation in DC?”), while other times they’re looking for a longer-term contact who can help them navigate early career decisions.

To connect with students who are looking for career advice, we ask our alumni to create a LinkedIn account and join our LinkedIn group, the Earlham College Alumni Connection.

Students are advised by our office to create a LinkedIn profile and search for alumni connections on this platform. To make sure you appear in student searches and are able to help answer their questions, please follow the steps below.

  1. Join LinkedIn and complete your profile. Make sure you list Earlham as your alma mater.
  2. Search for and join the “Earlham College Alumni Connection” group on LinkedIn.
  3. Navigate to your LinkedIn account’s Settings & Privacy and click the Communications tab. Set up notifications that work best for you. We recommend editing email frequency so you receive an email any time someone sends you an invitation or message, and so that you receive updates from your groups.

That’s it! After completing the steps above, Earlham students will be able to find you on LinkedIn, and you will receive an email when a student either 1) messages you directly or 2) posts a question in our LinkedIn group.

As an added bonus, you are also able to search LinkedIn for other Earlham alumni in order to network. To do this, navigate to Earlham’s LinkedIn alumni page. You can use keyword searches or the various filters provided by LinkedIn to find other alumni.

What is expected of me as an alumni connection?

We hope that as an alumni career connection you will keep an up-to-date online profile (including relevant employment information) and be willing to engage students who reach out to you.

How can I be an effective mentor?

Different students vary in their level of career development. Some students seek out mentors in order to explore possible career paths and learn more about life after Earlham. Others are in need of specific professional advice on interviewing and the job search. Below are some tips for having an effective mentoring conversation with a student.

  1. Define the student’s goal for the mentoring relationship, as well as your own. (Is this a one-time question, or will you be following up with additional conversations?)
  2. Manage the student’s expectations around the mentoring relationship. Be clear about what you can and cannot help with and how often you will be able to communicate.
  3. Practice active listening and ask clarifying questions as needed.
  4. Ask the student open-ended questions to spark discussion.
  5. Help students learn how to come to their own conclusions and solve their own problems, instead of offering ready-made solutions.

What are some topics I should discuss with students who reach out?

Topics for mentoring may include professional advice, financial life skills, navigating a new city, and more. As a mentor, you should take some time to think about what you are comfortable talking to students about. Below are a few great conversation starters.

  • What are your long- and short-term goals?
  • What are your strengths? Weaknesses or challenges?
  • What student organizations are you involved in?
  • What is your favorite class?
  • Have you done a summer internship? What did you learn?
  • Have you done an off-campus study program?
  • Why did you choose to attend Earlham?
  • Why did you choose your major?

It can also be useful for students to hear about alumni career and life paths. Understanding how different people go from graduation to their first job and the next is extremely valuable, and underscores the value of a liberal arts education.

Can I talk to students outside of the LinkedIn platform?

Of course! Although most students will first reach out to you via LinkedIn, you may choose any methods of communication that work for you in subsequent conversations. You may use LinkedIn’s InMail, or you may provide the student with your email address, LinkedIn profile, or phone number.

You might also consider attending the Alumni Connections Social during Homecoming. The Alumni Connections Social serves as a networking opportunity for juniors and seniors to meet alumni in their fields of interest.

To whom can I refer a student if I don’t know how to help them?

You are always welcome to refer students to a Career Coach in the CGCE. Students can request an appointment in Handshake.

If you would like to refer a student to a specific department, below are a few common referrals:

  • Center for Global and Career Education: for help with finding jobs/internships, learning about graduate and professional school, exploring career paths, applying for fellowships, questions about visas and taxes for international students, and applying for off-campus study programs.
  • Academic Enrichment Center: for help with study skills, time management, test anxiety, and tutoring. Students can also access online resources at
  • Writing Center: for help with crafting well-written documents.
  • Financial Aid: for help learning about loans and scholarships.
  • Student Life: for help with roommate issues, making new friends, and getting involved in student activities.
  • Counseling Services: for help dealing with unhappy feelings, unwanted habits, relationship problems, and emotional tension.