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The Importance of an Alumni Network

08 Jun
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You’re looking for an MBA program: comparing curricula, tuition rates, and faculty specialties, and considering the impact that your degree will have on your life and career.

You can derive long-term benefit from a strong alumni network—the organization comprised of a program’s graduates—so be sure to factor that into your thought process. Writing for Poets & Quants, Jeff Schmitt was eloquent on the value of the alumni network:

“Your business school is your brand. It conveys your values and guides your mission. More than an identity, your alma mater is a shared experience that connects past, present, and future students. That’s why the MBA is more than just a degree. It is an unspoken agreement to pay it forward, to open the same doors as alumni will unlock for you.”

Consider this: You’ll make a big investment to earn your MBA, and you’ll be an MBA student for a number of months but an alum for the rest of your life. A strong alumni network can provide returns on your investment for decades after you graduate.

The Power of Connection and Shared Experience

Each alumni network maintains a directory of every graduate's career, residence, and contact information. It’s typical for alumni to organize networking events, publish newsletters or magazines, support fundraising efforts for their institution, and serve as exemplars of their university and program. By staying in touch with your network, you can build professional connections, organize and take part in reunion activities, give back to your school, or simply maintain a connection with people who have successfully completed the same educational process that you have.

That commonality can carry greater impact than you might expect. A high-quality education will present numerous, sizable challenges that spark your intellectual and professional growth. By mastering those challenges together—or mastering the same challenges at different times—you and the other graduates of your program will develop a shared vocabulary of experience and personal development. You’ll know the skills and strengths required of someone who holds your degree, and your fellow alumni will know to credit you with those same attributes. This is all in addition to the subject-matter expertise which you’ll have in common, and the result is a strong sense that you know and can trust each other, even if you’ve not yet met.

Think through what that can mean when you’re making a career move or looking to hire. The recognition of your shared experience and similar achievement provides an immediate shorthand: you know to a significant degree what an alum of your program is made of, and what that person brings to the job.

Advantages of an MBA Alumni Network

Alumni of undergraduate and graduate programs alike will enjoy access to university resources and regular chances to interact with fellow alums, but MBA alumni networks afford particular opportunities, including these:

Mentoring programs are designed to bring together students and professionals with common professional interests. Some MBA programs hold so-called ‘flash’ mentor meetings in which students talk in depth with program alumni and business leaders. Many offer year-long mentorship programs that match students with top local executives on whom they can rely for industry and career advice.

MBA Internships
Business school alumni can provide important support to MBA students seeking internships, by assisting as they explore their options, reviewing and helping to revise their resumes, or putting them in touch with other alumni and business contacts. While taking part in campus job and internship fairs, alumni can engage with and interview prospective students for internship positions.

As you consider an MBA program, look into how active and involved its alumni are: Do they consistently work to help students and graduates, or have they moved on without looking back?

Local Involvement
MBA alumni networks provide opportunities for members to stay involved and engaged at the regional level, connecting them with other grads who share cultural backgrounds and interests. They frequently interact through social, philanthropic, and professional events inspired by members' common backgrounds.

Local MBA alumni associations and clubs may include BIPOC chapters, groups of alumni with similar personal interests, international or regional chapters, and chapters largely comprised of women or LGBTQ+ members.

Online Connections
Online communities are critical to keeping members engaged and informed, and numerous business school networks have launched online portals in recent years. Through these platforms, alumni can reconnect and nurture relationships based on interests and identities, participate in meaningful discussions, and share knowledge and experiences.

Mutual Benefit

Thriving networks don’t grow by themselves. Fortunately for you, each university and program is motivated to develop and maintain a strong alumni network. Speaking for the United Kingdom’s University of Bath, Head of Alumni Relations Molly Southwood explained, “An engaged alumni network allows the university to benefit from the skills and experience of our graduates, by offering their support to our students, to the institution, and to each other. If we keep them properly informed and engaged, alumni are our most loyal supporters and our best ambassadors."

By inspiring its graduates to stay actively involved, your alma mater stands to gain:

Alumni can share their wealth of experience and skills with current students via talks and newsletters. Further, they can help support students in work placements and in launching careers.

International Ambassadors
Consider City University London, where more than 45% of students come from outside the UK. “Our International Alumni Ambassadors, former students who have volunteered to be a point of contact for City in their home country, support our recruitment activity,” said Celia Enyioko-Hanniford of the Alumni Communications Office. “They are invaluable in helping us provide prospective students with real insight into London-living and, hopefully, help them confirm their decision to study with us!”3

Financial Support
Dedicated, grateful alumni often become generous philanthropists. Their donations can fund life-changing scholarships, updates to facilities and equipment, and advancement in teaching and research.

When you enroll in an MBA program, you join a lifelong cycle of dialogue and advancement. As a student, you benefit from the university and its alumni; as a graduate, you help and are supported by other alumni while assisting current students; all the while, your program engages your enthusiasm, commitment, and involvement in order to help the next generation of alumni who will follow in your footsteps.

Expand your network. Strengthen your career.

Start building personal and professional connections that will last your lifetime. Join the global network of Jayhawk business alumni who have studied with our expert faculty in small, immersive classes and then gone on to thrive in successful careers. Advance on your path to KU by talking with an admissions advisor today.