Johns Hopkins Gazette: May 8, 1995


Finding Work


By Mike Gluck

     As a graduating senior, I have spent the past five months
looking for a job as a writer. I have updated my résumé and
looked through the want ads and sent out as many cover letters as
I could each week. I have traveled hundreds of miles for
interviews across the Northeast, with just a garment bag and a
stack of résumés in hand.

     In my search for gainful employment, I have found that being
a Hopkins student has benefited me in numerous ways. 

     Of course, nearly every potential employer was impressed
that I attended such a fine institution, even if they referred to
it throughout the interview as "John Hopkins." But what impressed
me was the number of alumni who were available to help me with my
job search.

     Perhaps the most comprehensive source of alumni contacts is
available through the Alumni Career Network, a program run by the
Johns Hopkins Alumni Association through the Office of Alumni
Relations. They maintain a database of alumni who are willing to
serve as mentors for students and other alumni. The alumni
mentors are available to offer advice not only about specific
professions, but also about living in different cities both
across the country and around the world. 

     So I filled in the one-page form with information about
myself and the career fields and geographic areas in which I was
interested. A few days later, the Office of Alumni Relations sent
me a list of possible mentors, complete with home and work
addresses, phone numbers and job titles.

     At first, I was a bit reluctant to call these people. After
all, they had lives, right? Why would someone who graduated in
1974 want to help me find a job? But then I realized that they
had all signed up to be mentors, so I may as well at least call
and see what happens.

     What I found was that most alumni were more than willing to
talk for 10, 20 or even 30 minutes. I tried to be considerate--
calling on a Monday morning or Friday afternoon was rarely
appreciated--and I always wrote thank-you letters afterward. But
regardless of my efforts, I noticed that most of the alumni were
sincerely interested in helping me, despite the fact that we had
never met. The only connection was that we had both attended the
same school. Apparently, the bond is stronger than I thought.

     In speaking with alumni, I gathered a huge amount of advice,
most of which I could not have found anywhere else. My contacts
from Hopkins seemed more willing than others to pass along useful
information and career tips, probably because of the shared
experience of being a Hopkins student.  

     The alumni often offered more than mere insight and
guidance. One alumnus told me to send him my résumé and writing
samples. He critiqued them, then gave me half a dozen contacts
and suggested we meet for lunch if I was going to be interviewing
in the area. Another, realizing that I had limited funds as a
student, gave me his 800 number at work and told me I could use
it to reach him if I wanted to talk.

     The Alumni Career Network is not a job bank, at least not
according to Lee Wil-liamson, who oversees the database. Instead,
he said, it is a way for Hopkins alumni (present and future) to
"explore different careers." Williamson said there are
approximately 1,600 mentors currently on file, and that more than
550 students and alumni took advantage of the service last year.
Sometimes, grateful alumni send him thank-you cards, and students
who have used the service often sign up later to be mentors.  

     On-campus postering and ads in Johns Hopkins Magazine
encourage people to use the program, which is free to all
students and dues-paying members of the Alumni Association.
Students and alumni of the School of Continuing Studies are the
top users, followed closely by their peers at the School of Arts
and Sciences, with School of Engineering affiliates a distant
third.

     Of course, the Career Network is just one of the tools
available to contact Hopkins alumni. In my search, I pored over
the alumni notes in Johns Hopkins Magazine and a young alumni
newsletter, looking for alumni whose careers sounded interesting.
I even looked up past years' winners of a competitive writing
scholarship that I won sophomore year. 

     While getting in touch with alumni through these methods
proved somewhat more difficult than going through the Alumni
Career Network, I found that a little bit of resourcefulness was
usually all I needed to track someone down.

     As with the contacts I had from the Career Network, these
alumni were more than willing to lend me a hand. One woman told
me about a job opening that had not yet been made public. Another
gave me the name of a client who was looking to hire someone. 

     I am happy to say that I did eventually find a job as a
writer. In fact, I got two job offers the same week. While
neither of them were direct results of alumni contacts, I have no
doubt that the advice I received from alumni was crucial in
helping me fine-tune my résumé and develop my interview skills.
In addition, I learned more about the opportunities available to
writers, which meant that I was able to make a well-informed
decision when presented with a job offer.

     So if you're an alumnus/alumna and you want to stay
connected to Hopkins while helping current and future alumni,
consider being a mentor. You might be surprised to learn how
valuable your advice can be to your fellow Hopkins graduates.

     Finally, to the folks over at Steinwald Alumni House, and to
all the alumni (and others) from Hopkins who have helped me
during these past few months, I want to say thank you for doing
such a great job.

     And for helping me find one.


**Mike Gluck will become a Hopkins alum on May 25.**

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