Meet Alumni: Terrapins Connect
Terrapins Connect, is an online platform that allows UMD students to find mentors by connecting them with UMD alumni. Get started in Terrapins Connect and review tips for developing questions to ask alumni. Alumni are eager to talk to you about:
- Creating a industry specific resume
- Applying for graduate school
- Introductions to professionals in their field
- Tips for taking advantage of your time in school
- Job shadowing
- And much more!
New to Terrapins Connect? Review the "how-to" videos below.
Culturally Competent Mental Health Professional, Advocate, Consultant and People Leader
Researcher | Economic Geographer | Scientific Programmer at DC Office of Planning
Washington, DC, USA
Talking with professionals who have the type of job you are interested in landing, is the number one best search strategy! Spend most of your searching time on this strategy to speed up your job searching timeline. Present yourself as a "career explorer" when networking, instead of a "job seeker". This allows you to focus on gaining information that will inform your search and career path evolution.
Start with these steps:
- Make a list of EVERYONE you know, regardless of their profession (i.e. you don’t know who they know!). Use this network tracking template to record contacts, track your progress, and organize your referrals.
- Reach out to schedule informational interviews. Request 15-20 minutes to learn more about their career path/organization or ask for referrals.
- Prepare for the conversation: Craft a concise self introduction. Dress to impress with these ideas and tips. Be resume ready, if the opportunity arises.
- Follow-up on all leads. Statistically speaking, this is when networkers have success!
The best questions to ask will evolve from things you are truly interested in knowing (i.e. career preparation, work environment, search strategies, etc.). Review a sample list of questions below and consider having five to ten questions prepared for a 30-minute phone meeting. Request an informational interview, sample wording.
- What do you like most (least) about your work?
- Can you tell me more about your career path?
- What are the entry level positions called in the field?
- How did you obtain your entry level position in this field?
- What do you think are the most important skills to have to be successful in this field?
- What made you choose this career field? What did you like about it?
- What is your favorite and least favorite part of your position?
- Can you describe a typical workday or week?
- What type of education and experience do you need to remain successful in this field?
- What are the future career opportunities in this field?
- What are the challenges in balancing work and personal life?
- What keeps you at your current organization?
- I plan on pursuing a long distance job search and I see you live on the west coast. Do you have any tips on how to make connections with organizations in another state prior to moving?
- What advice would you give to someone trying to break into this field?
- I am trying to learn more about xyz. Do you know if there is a professional association within that industry that I could examine?
- Where do you see xyz field going in the future? Are there any new technologies or forecasted growth in the field?
Questions for alumni:
- Can you tell me more about your career path?
- Were there any classes or experiences you had at UMD that better prepared you for the field?
- Are there experiences you wish you had gained?
- Was your major directly related to your first position after graduation?
- I see your major is not related to your current field of work. How did you gain the skills to break into your current position?
- When searching for your first position, what strategies did you find most helpful?
- Within the field of xyz there are many organizations that I could apply to. Do you have tips for evaluating organizations?
- How did you know you were following the right career path for you?
- What do you think is the most important aspect to consider when choosing a career path?
- Are there industry specific professional associations that you recommend joining?
Questions for employers:
- I see that x, y, and z skills are important for the XX internship position, can you tell me any additional skills you look for?
- What is a typical day like in the XX position?
- Is there a hiring timeline for the XX position?
- Is there a skill set that most applicants are missing?
- Are there certain school or previous job experiences that best qualify students for this internship/job?
- How do you usually advertise XX position?
- What do you enjoy about working with this organization?
Avoid questions that are personal in nature, relate to salary, or could be perceived as judgmental.
- Events - review a list of on campus programs and virtual events to connect with alumni and employers.
- LinkedIn - join groups or review UMD’s alumni page to connect with alumni and employers of interest
- Terrapins Connect - connects students with UMD alumni
- Employer networking events - attend to meet professionals and gain knowledge of openings
- Intern - make the most of your internship by requesting informational interviews
- Intern for a Day - one day shadowing experience that allows students to forge connections
- Road Trips to the Real World - visit an organization for a day over winter break (options along the eastern coast).
- Career Shuttles - a half day, group experience to visit an organization of interest
- UMD career fairs and networking events - attract many employers who are also Terps!