The Student Life section of Utah State Today highlights work written by the talented student journalists at Utah State University. Each week, the editor selects a story that has been published in The Utah Statesman or the Hard News Café or both for inclusion in Utah State Today.
Alumni and Students Network
Students at Utah State University now have opportunities to connect with Aggie alumni from different professions and walks of life through weekly networking AlumNights events.
AlumNights, hosted weekly by the Student Alumni Association, consist of a small group of students either meeting at an alumnus’ home or at the Alumni House on campus to meet, network with and learn from those who have a job in the their field of study, said Shane Jonson, who is the networking VP for SAA.
“I’ve seen, just before we even leave the house, a lot of business cards being exchanged, email addresses being exchanged,” Jonson said. “One (student) in particular was setting up an internship for a coming summer. And even if (the alumni) weren’t in a position to offer something to the students, there have been times they’re like, ‘I know someone who can offer something right now or in the future.'”
Jonson helps to find and contact alumni to present at AlumNights, sets up the event and reaches out to people across campus so that students can be informed and attend.
“No matter how long ago they graduated, they still are pumped about being Aggies, and they still want to do whatever they can to help current students,” Jonson said of the alumni who have been involved with AlumNights. “The issue is getting students comfortable enough to come to these things. I think they all see the value in it, and I think they all want to network, but I think a lot of them are a little bit hesitant to know where to begin.”
At an AlumNight held Monday [Feb. 23, 2015], six students and SAA officers attended as Rylar and Nicole Masco, who graduated about two years ago, shared information about their individual jobs and experience in the post-graduation world.
“The transition to being a grown-up is awesome,” said Nicole, who works as a physical education teacher and cheer coach. “On the financial side, once you’ve finished college, your duty is to invest in yourself. Live like you’re still in college — pay off loans, get out of debt.”
Both discussed the importance of investing in oneself as a student and a graduate to prepare to be the kind of candidate employers will want to hire.
“Start planning before you graduate, start networking and talking to HR people at places where you want to work,” said Rylar, a sales and service manager. “Create a self-brand online. … You can tell a lot from your social media profile. LinkedIn is a big resource. … Put time into yourself.”
Students can find their dream jobs, Rylar said. Even if it starts with something else, “give yourself the freedom to take a little longer, but choose what you want,” he said.
After presenting, students were invited to ask questions, exchange information and eat Aggie Ice Cream with the Mascos.
SAA would like AlumNights to remain more intimate, with a handful of students who can really connect with the alum and ask questions, said Britnee Nuehring, the current president of SAA. However, they hope that more people can continue to learn about them and realize how important they are for networking, she said.
“I think that one of the biggest problems with our generation is students don’t know how to talk to people,” Nuehring said. “There’s texting. There’s social media. Things are replacing face-to-face time. That’s what we have here.”
Nuehring believes that networking is essential for students, and that is why SAA works so hard to provide different experiences with different alumni in numerous fields of work.
“To me, meeting people, especially people in the same field, is always a good learning experience — especially meeting fellow Aggies,” Nuehring said. “What we want to gain is having students being inspired and motivated.”
There will be nine more AlumNights this semester with engineers, educators, business people, entrepreneurs and some newly-graduated Aggies scheduled to come and share.
To learn more about the Student Alumni Association and AlumNights, visit usu.edu/saa.