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by Jordan Pflugh | March 31, 2009

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Networking can be a beautiful thing. Recent graduates flock to their alma maters, job offers - like dandelions - tucked behind their ears as they return to the old school bearing career opportunities and neat promo stuff. Those students you found slouching drunkenly in the dorm hallway could (believe it or not) one day pass on your resume to the right people. It is estimated that 80 percent of all jobs are found through connections - what better way to make those connections than throughout your college days when student organizations and group projects with your senior classmates could bode well for future career plans.

The University-Sponsored Career Fair
Let's face it, recommending a good candidate for employment reflects well on the recommendee. Today's job market is wide open and recruiting good employees presents an arduous task. Recent graduates are often pulled from their daily routines to attend career fairs targeted at students attending their alma maters.

Alumni are well qualified to screen good candidates from their universities precisely because they're familiar with courseloads, resume attributes, and often times, faces at the schools. Not only is it likely that the Alum/recruiter-for-a-day will want to gather good candidates from her former university, she might even remember your face from a class, club, or (for better or worse) a party. Remember that alumni generally have faith in their alma maters, having navigated the same rigorous academic route as those of you who continue to pour out from the same university corridors. Even graduates of grade-inflating institutions like to think that their suma cum laude means something - and possibly prove it by flooding company recruits with hard-working fellow alums.~Solidifying the Connection
If you'd like to become one of those hard-working fellow alumni, there are a few things to consider when attending university-targeted recruiting events (most of which consist of schmoozing and catering to an alum's need to reminisce). Remember that recent graduates haven't been out too long and probably recall mid-term cram sessions and all-nighters all too well. Any connection you have with the alum, such as a major, advisor, school club, or professor, could spark an interest and etch your face in his memory. Possible connections are endless when you have a lengthy college experience in common with a recruiter.

In addition to the normal barrage of personal questions, remember to ask the alum/recruiter how he or she went about the job search. Act interested in what they majored in and how your major might fit into life at X Company. Having had similar experiences, they'll be able to tell you what the transition has been like by relating it to what you're doing now (i.e. it's like working at the school newspaper, or having one 500 level Finance assignment after another). Follow the flow of conversation, act interested, find common characteristics that make you a good candidate for the job, and most importantly, work that alma mater!

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