By: Amanda Madenberg, HE ’20
When you choose to attend Cornell, you not only join the community of your graduating class but also a network of over 250,000 living alumni. When I heard this number as a prospective student, it didn’t mean much to me. Throughout my years at Cornell, however, the benefits of this network have become more evident. I’m sure I will continue to see the efforts and impact of this large force after graduation. Cornellians are Cornellians for life.
Thanks to Cornell’s inclusion of students studying just about every possible subject coming from every corner of the world, Cornell alumni are quite diverse. There are Cornell alumni in every continent, dozens of countries, and hundreds of cities. There are Cornell alumni in every industry. When you graduate, you are bound to interact with alumni from many different class years.
Similar to students in their four years on campus, Cornell alumni are proud to represent Cornell, and they often give back to the undergraduate campus community. There are several organizations they can join to help current students make the most of their time at Cornell. One example is CU Elinks, which students and alumni have access to with their Cornell login information. Essentially, CU Elinks is a networking platform for the entire Cornell community. Students and alumni can enter their major, professional interests, skills, and other information, similar to a LinkedIn profile. Not only are there resources on this website such as tips for job interviews, but also there are thousands of Cornell alumni who want to volunteer their time in talking to current students. Students can reach out to alums using this platform and ask for in-person or virtual meetings, to which the alumni can respond within the website. I have personally met with several Cornell alumni that I found through the search filters on CU Elinks, and I’ve found these “informational interviews” incredibly helpful. When I was a junior and seriously determining what I wanted to do as my first step after graduation, talking to alumni in various fields was one resource that helped me pinpoint how I could use my talents and interests in day-to-day work. Sometimes my phone calls or meetings even yielded other meetings, as alumni have been very generous in connecting me with other individuals whom they think I’d like to meet. CU Elinks has helped me network with people I wouldn’t have otherwise met.
Another resource is Cornell Handshake, which is a platform for finding and applying to jobs. It’s a great way to go through the post-graduation job recruitment process because you’ll have direct Cornell supervision along the way. For example, you can use Handshake to sign up for interviews on-campus, various career fairs and career-related events, as well as message employers visiting the campus. Every Cornell student should have a Handshake account when they arrive on campus—it is a unique and efficient way to find out about important networking opportunities happening right on campus, as well as in major cities near Ithaca. Students also commonly use this platform to find summer internships.
Because each college/school at Cornell has its own Career Exploration Center and resources, the alumni from particular colleges/schools will often volunteer their time to visit campus and meet with students informally who are interested in their industries. For example, in the College of Human Ecology, I have participated in the Young Alumni Lunch Series. Each week, the College invites two or three young alumni to speak with current Cornell students, and in addition to providing a free lunch, there’s an informal space where you can ask questions, gain information and wisdom, and network with people who are there specifically to help you.
These are just a few of the many ways the Cornell Alumni Network serves current Cornell students.