Homecoming offers Mercer University students an opportunity to connect with and learn from alumni, and those who build relationships during this time may reap career benefits in the future.
Career planning plays an important role in helping students launch, change or advance their career. But getting out there and building relationships with your Mercer network is just as — if not more — beneficial, said Kim Meredith, executive director of the Center for Career and Professional Development.
That’s because career paths are frequently shaped by the people they meet and the connections they make, she said.
With thousands of alumni and friends returning to campus and dozens of events planned, Meredith encouraged students to get out during Homecoming, Nov. 11-12, and meet fellow Mercerians.
“This is the premier opportunity of the year for students to connect with alumni specifically for the purposes of career education and relationship building,” she said.
Here are three ways students can make the most of the opportunity.
1. Prepare to meet alumni
The Mercer network runs deep, and alumni enjoy helping students and each other in their careers, Meredith said.
Before meeting alumni, students will want to have a few open-ended questions in mind. Good questions help ignite conversations and take the pressure off students who may feel nervous in these type of networking moments.
“The best advice is to do more listening than you do talking,” Meredith said.
Questions might include asking about their Mercer degree, career, what projects they’re working on, or what is most challenging or rewarding about their job.
These topics will help students discover new career information as well as the commonalities they share with alumni. Commonalities, whether they’re related to professional or personal interests, prompt deeper conversations and connections, Meredith said.
“This isn’t the time to hand out resumes, but it is a chance to purposefully build a new relationship and allow space for unplanned opportunities to occur,” she said.
And if you’re nervous about putting yourself out there, bring a friend.
2. Attend the Alumni Career Speaker Series
Make sure to attend one of the sessions in the 10th Annual Alumni Career Speaker Series. Seven alumni from different career fields will speak in separate sessions across campus from 10:10-11 a.m. Nov. 11.
“Even if you go hear a speaker that’s from another discipline, what you’ll learn from that alum is immense in terms of career readiness,” Meredith said.
That includes learning how professionals present themselves, how they knew what job they were going to do after college, what their story reveals about their career path and how they were promoted to the role they now hold, she said.
“There’s also an opportunity to gain an interest in something you’ve never heard of or maybe you’ve heard of but know very little about,” she said.
3. Position yourself for success and fun
Before Homecoming, consider your schedule and purposefully see how to reserve time to participate in the events that are open to both students and alumni. Check out the Homecoming schedule, and decide where you want to focus your efforts.
In addition to the Alumni Career Speaker Series, aim to select an additional celebratory event. Having both opportunities on your schedule will help you position yourself for success and fun, Meredith said.
“Homecoming is a prime opportunity for students and alumni to come together over various topics such as career successes, remembrances of the past and celebrations of the present,” said Jill Kinsella, associate vice president for alumni services and specials events. “This year’s event lineup offers an especially rich selection of events for students and alumni.”
Events open to students and alumni include:
- 10th Annual Alumni Career Speaker Series, 10:10-11 a.m., Nov. 11, various locations
- College of Professional Advancement Alumni Showcase, 11 a.m.-1 p.m., Nov. 11, online
- The Cauldron Through the Years, noon-4 p.m., Nov. 11, Jack Tarver Library
- Reporting Southern Violence: Notes on Process, 4:30-6 p.m., Nov. 11, Willet Science Center Auditorium
- Pep Rally and Fireworks, 8-9 p.m., Nov. 11, Cruz Plaza
- Homecoming 5K, 7 a.m. check-in, 8 a.m. start, Nov. 12, Five Star Stadium
- Second Annual Mercer Press Homecoming Book Sale, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., Nov. 12, Black Field
- Ford Concert Series featuring Dillon Carmichael and Jupiter Coyote, pre-game, Nov. 12, Black Field
- Mercer Bears vs. Furman Paladins football game, 3 p.m., Nov. 12, Five Star Stadium
- Mercer Haunts: Chilling True Accounts of Darkness from Mercerians Past and Present, 8 p.m., Nov. 12, Tattnall Square Center for the Arts
Some events may require tickets or registration. Please see the full schedule for additional details.
Feature photo by Christopher Ian Smith