How to Begin a Conversation with an Alumni Mentor

Edinboro University alumni are always giving back to their alma mater in meaningful ways through our annual fund, volunteer opportunities, and scholarship donations. The Center for Career Development and Experiential Learning and the Office of Alumni Engagement are excited to partner and offer a new way for alumni to give back to current students: Career mentoring!

Alumni who volunteer to serve as career mentors are featured on our Career Communities. Their listing includes their academic program and graduation year, professional background and experience, ways they are willing to help, and contact information. The value of an alumni mentor is significant – they can offer valuable advice, networking and even help with resumes or interviews. Many alumni have successfully navigated the post-graduation job search in economic downturns, and can be especially helpful as students contend with the COVID-19 global pandemic.

What mentoring is:
Alumni mentors are available to provide career advice and help on the specific topics described in their bio. However, every mentor relationship is different. Sometimes, your interaction with an alumni mentor may be transactional. For example, you may reach out on LinkedIn and schedule one phone call for general advice about moving to a new city, job searching, or finding opportunities in your desired profession. Other mentor interactions may end up being more relationship-oriented. For example, you may find that an alumni mentor is willing to meet you for coffee, provide ongoing advice on your resume, or invite you to a professional networking event. Ultimately, mentor interactions are different depending on the mentor and the mentee. The most important thing is to get started. Don’t be afraid to reach out our alumni mentors – after all, they have volunteered to help you!

What mentoring is NOT:
Mentors are not here to do work for you – it is not appropriate to ask a mentor to find you a job, write your resume for you, or do your work. It is also important to take time for your mentor to get to know you before asking for recommendations or introductions. Alumni mentors may be able to help you network, but they may want to get to know you better before introducing you to professional contacts. It is important to be patient and professional, and not ask your mentor to immediately start doing favors for you. Mentoring is a two-way street, and successful mentoring relationships are built on two-way communication and cooperation.

How to initiate a mentoring discussion:
We realize that reaching out to an alumni mentor may seem intimidating, and students may not know how to initiate conversation. The following tips and email templates are a great way to start if you want to reach out to one of our featured alumni mentors.

  1. Send a LinkedIn invitation: Many of our alumni mentors have included links to their LinkedIn profile. To connect with an alumni mentor, simply click the blue “Connect on LinkedIn” box in an alumni mentor profile. This will take you to the alumni LinkedIn profile, where you can request to connect. Be sure to include a note with your connection request! Notes should be short but professional.

    Example“Hello X, I am a current student at Edinboro University majoring in X, and I found your information from the University Career Center Alumni Mentors page. I would like to connect and learn more about working in the X profession, and perhaps schedule a time when we could talk more. Thank you.”

  2. Send an email: Most alumni mentors have included their email address. You may want to choose email over LinkedIn if you do not yet have a LinkedIn account, or have a more specific goal for your mentoring relationship. The following email templates provide guidance on how to construct a personable and professional email:

    Example 1:
    Dear X,

    My name is Jane Doe and I am a current student at Edinboro University. I found your information through the EU Career Center’s Alumni Mentor page, and was hoping that you would share some of your career advice with me.

    I am a senior majoring in sociology, and I think that the work you do is fascinating. I am in the process of defining my own career direction, and would love to hear more about your own career journey and what you do in your current role. I am available to connect by phone, by email, or by video conference, whichever option is more convenient for you. Thank you for your time, and I look forward to connect with you.

    Sincerely,

    Jane DoeExample 2:

    Dear X,

    My name is John Doe, and I am a third-year student at Edinboro University majoring in English writing with a minor in journalism. I found your information from the EU Career Center, and see that you are a staff writer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. I am a staff writer for The Spectator, and my dream is to someday work as a professional writer for a news organization. Would you have time to connect with me and offer any professional advice you may have for an aspiring news writer? I would also so appreciate a quick look at my resume and would welcome any advice you may have. I am available by phone, email, or video conference and hope to hear from you. Thank you for your time!

    Sincerely,

    John Doe

  3. Schedule an appointment with a career coach: If you are interested in connecting with an alumni mentor but would like advice and guidance, our team can help. Schedule an appointment with a career coach, who can help you select the right mentor for you and make an introduction to help you connect.

We hope that our alumni mentors and current students begin fulfilling professional mentoring relationships, and that this new initiative continues the tradition of giving back that our Fighting Scots network has carried for generations. If you are an alum interested in being an alumni mentor, click here to get started. Students or alumni with questions may contact our staff at careerdevelopment@edinboro.edu or at (814) 732-2781.

By Monica Clem
Monica Clem Executive Director, Career Development and Experiential Learning Monica Clem