May is graduation season! Shortly after walking across the stage, most new grads of HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) will be starting their first jobs. Entering the “real world” can be scary. You knew what to expect in college, and you might wonder what’s next. The good news is that your HBCU network can help you succeed. Here are five ways to use your HBCU network to boost your career.
1. Join Your Alumni Association
The first and best step you can take to leverage your HBCU network is to join your HBCU’s official alumni association. (If you’re worried about the cost, most schools waive or reduce the fees for new grads. Some schools are waiving alumni fees for everyone.)
HBCU alumni associations offer many career-boosting opportunities for freshly minted alums. Most alumni groups host networking events. Many clubs also provide members with exclusive job listings. Some groups even match new grads with mentors. Social events like HBCU football games and other sporting events can create networking opportunities.
To make sure you don’t miss out on essential assistance and helpful guidance, join your HBCU’s alumni association as soon as you graduate. (Join both the national and local chapters to maximize the benefit.)
2. Get Involved
To take full advantage of your alumni association, you’ll need to get involved. While HBCU alumni usually jump at the chance to help new grads, showing your face at local alumni events will speed things along by letting people get to know you on a personal level. Even better, volunteering at these events will let people know that you are a hard worker who is willing to help others – traits people will remember when they are looking for new hires or mentees.
3. Stay in Touch with Your Professors
If you think you should forget about your professors after you submit that final assignment and toss your cap in the air, think again. Professors are some of the most valuable members of your HBCU network. Most HBCU professors are leaders in their fields. Many are also HBCU alumni. So, they likely know people who can help you with your career. They may even know the person that you’ve been longing to contact. Reach out to your professors every so often to stay in touch and keep them up to date on your career.
4. Use Social Media to Your Advantage
If you live in a city with only a handful of grads from your HBCU community, don’t fret. You can find your HBCU network online. Nearly every HBCU has a dedicated Facebook page or a LinkedIn group for its alumni. Often, alums also create pages for grads working in specific careers or living in specific areas. Joining these groups is a good way to find alums in your area or industry.
5. Reach Out to Other HBCU Grads
HBCUs alums might not agree on which school has the best band, but they agree on helping HBCU grads succeed. So, while your HBCU network should start with the grads of your alma mater, don’t forget that you are also part of the larger HBCU community. Graduates of other Historically Black Colleges and Universities will also be willing to help you in your career. Look for Facebook groups for HBCU grads in your industry, state, or city.
Don’t Wait – Start Building your HBCU Network Now!
As an HBCU grad, you are part of a proud tradition. Graduates of Historically Black Colleges and Universities excel in their careers. Part of that success comes from strong alumni networks. Whether you graduated ten months ago or ten years ago, your HBCU network will be there for you.