Q&A with Courtney Holden: It’s Never too Late to Leverage your Alumni Network!
Courtney joined Clarity in 2017, and her experience is a perfect example of how you can power your job search by utilizing your network. In this case, it was Courtney’s college alma mater that helped her secure a new job at Clarity. From initially connecting with friends seeking job search advice to ultimately working with a Clarity recruiter who shared her alma matter (and that’s Dickinson College if you’re wondering!), finding the right professional fit all came down to striking a lasting chord through common ground. While there are many networks worth tapping into, the power of a shared alma matter is unmatched. With the majority of urban professionals understanding that their first employer after college probably isn’t going to be their last, it’s important to foster relationships and build new ones from day one in the workforce! We might also recommend you keep a Clarity recruiter in your network ー you never know when you’ll need some help on the hunt! But back to our Q&A with Courtney…
Communications Team: Since we’re highlighting how you leveraged your alumni network to land a job at Clarity, let’s talk a little bit about college for starters! What did you major in? Did you know what you wanted to do professionally before you graduated?
Courtney: Originally, I wasn’t certain what I wanted to do long term while I was in school. I majored in Psychology and felt I could leverage the degree in a lot of different fields and industries, and I have always been fascinated by how psychology impacts business. One thing I knew for sure was that I wanted a position that had a social interaction component. I was actually approached by a recruiter before graduating, which was my first exposure to the business of recruiting. Prior to that interaction during senior year, I never realized what a lucrative business recruiting was, and that is when I began to feel that recruitment could be a great path for me. The more I learned about the business, and, subsequently began using recruiters on my job search, I realized it could be a really rewarding career path. Turned out to be true, which is the reason I am still in recruitment today!
Communications Team: Where did you work before Clarity and how did you find yourself in the field of recruiting?
Courtney: My first position out of college was in technical recruiting at a large agency where I was thrown into the trenches right away! I was recruiting for IT positions for about a year and then transitioned into a sales position at big broadcast media company. Ultimately, I realized I had a passion for recruitment and wanted to get back into recruiting full time, which is what led me to Clarity!
Communications Team: How did you find Clarity?
Courtney: I found Clarity through a college friend. She was also on the market looking for a new position and had mentioned she was working with Clarity and a Dickinson Alumni worked there as well! She immediately put me in touch with the fellow Dickinsonian and we hit it off! I was able to describe my previous history and career goals to her very easily. I find that speaking with a fellow alum always feels comforting because you have something very big in common right off the bat. She expressed the idea that I should consider working at Clarity and then I took her advice and entered the internal recruitment process. I could tell they not only cared about me, but all of the candidates and clients they worked with. It really came through while listening to everyone’s descriptions of their own work here. I loved the feel of a smaller sized company, too, and knew there was something special about Clarity’s highly personalized approach. I was offered the job after several interviews, I accepted, and never looked back!
Communications Team: What advice do you have for students looking to make connections with older alums from their school they haven’t met before?
Courtney: First and foremost, even if you’re no longer a recent grad, it’s never too late to connect! There are plenty of avenues you can take to make connections with alums. Here are my top recommendations:
- Don’t hesitate to reach out either on LinkedIn or by email I always feel excited when a fellow alum reaches out to me, and now I’ve worked with so many that are seeking roles in NYC! When reaching out, tailor the email or message based on what you are seeking, whether it be simple job advice, talk about their career progression, or to speak about a specific job opening they may be affiliated with. Be friendly, yet also direct. Many people view linkedin messages from their mobile phone, so a good rule of thumb is to make sure your message isn’t so long that they have to scroll through it for too long. If they can get a snapshot of your request succinctly, they’ll be more likely to get back to you promptly!
- Attend networking events put together by alumni In this environment, it is easy to mingle and meet new alums and chat about careers since that is usually why a good portion of attendees show up in the first place. I once landed a job interview by just speaking to an older alum I met in a social setting where we were connected by mutual alum friends.
If you’re not sure where to turn to find these events…
- Connect with your school’s career center. Many alums keep their alma mater up to date as they move to new companies, and want to be known as available for informational interviews. If you seek advice from the career center they’re usually able to connect with alums near you that could be helpful to you on your search. Dickinson, for example, recently became part of the AlumniFire program, which is a digital social network where people post jobs, and you can submit messages to one another. You can search by industry and location to connect with people who are in your area of interest.
Communications Team: How do you stay connected to your college?
Courtney: I stay connected by attending different NYC events either hosted by Dickinson College or fellow alums. I’ve met so many people in NYC by attending different events. I also stay very close with my friends from college and through them they have entire networks that they can tap into for me if needed.
As recruiters, we do not play favorites. However, I always get extra excited to help a fellow alum find a new position, and I know that feeling is true for most people I work with. It feels great to know you are helping keep your alum network strong and being a source of support when needed!
Communications Team: Thank you so much, Courtney!