A Samford University Networking group is helping students connect to alumni, parents and employers who can help them identify internship and job opportunities.
The online forum, affiliated with LinkedIn professional network, is managed by Samford's Career Development Center.
Since its launch in September 2013, when it replaced an existing 300-member Career Development group, Samford University Networking has grown to 1,190 members, with new connections being added daily. On any given day, participants may view as many as 1,000 available job postings.
Its purpose, explains CDC employee relations director Heather Averett, is to help students connect to resources who can provide career and job search guidance.
"It provides a safe online forum for the greater Samford community to discuss and connect in regards to career tips, advice, job leads and mentoring opportunities," Averett said. "By joining, and most importantly, interacting with the group, students can gain easy access to our extended career community."
"Whether you're a student, an alum, a Samford employee, a parent or a recruiter interested in hiring Samford students, we encourage you to join the group," she said.
Joining is easy. First, create a profile at LinkedIn.com, search "Samford University Networking," and clink on "Join." An administrator will approve membership.
The site includes helpful information for building a student profile. Tips include how to write an informative profile headline, how to pick an appropriate photo (in professional dress…no Facebook-like party shots or puppy pics!) and other advice that will best showcase experience and professional interests.
Recent postings include one from a new graduate looking for a short-term roommate in Atlanta, Ga., an announcement of a new business launch by an alumnus, and advisories from Averett with news of job and internship opportunities.
Averett said the Samford CDC staff developed the Networking option after noting how the Wake Forest University career center was helping students find employment after graduation.
"One thing they were doing well was connecting students and the greater Wake Forest community together through their LinkedIn group," she said of the North Carolina school. "We identified this as something that would be easy and inexpensive to implement at Samford, so we jumped right in."
Drew Hall, a May 2014 graduate, is glad the Samford CDC made the effort. He used the revamped networking page when searching for internships as an undergraduate and again before moving to New York City for his new job as a customer experience associate for Warby Parker eyewear company.
"The contacts I've made so far have been more than helpful," Hall said. "Just knowing they're in the city with me provides comfort and confidence that a Samford connection can be made almost anywhere."
"I highly recommend anyone and everyone to engage in discussion here because it truly can be a great place for the Samford family to help each other succeed, no matter where they are in life," he said.
Averett underscores the importance of follow-through. If students and alumni really use the networking site to the fullest and take advantage of it, it can be invaluable, she says.
"But, they have to use it," she advises. "They can't just expect the connections to come to them. They need to be willing to reach out…to take the initiative."
LinkedIn, the world's largest professional network, helps over 259 million users share business opportunities and ideas every day. The network's website cites that more than 39 million students and recent college graduates are on LinkedIn and more than 3 million companies have LinkedIn company pages.