Are you looking for career advice, a mentor, or simply to rekindle the sense of community you remember from your days as a student at OU?
The OU Alumni Association has created a new career networking tool designed to do just that. Open to all current students, alumni, and faculty, OU Connection is a community-based career development and mentoring platform created to help you expand your career-related opportunities and build a community where members can learn and share industry knowledge.
“OU Connection is a resource for alumni and students to engage with the OU community to help further their career goals,” said Christopher Price, professional development specialist for the OU Alumni Association. “It also provides a meaningful connection point for students and alumni to find mentors in their field of study for peer-to-peer coaching and collaboration.”
OU Connection allows you to reconnect with old classmates and enables you to utilize the trusted University of Oklahoma environment to expand your professional network. As a member, you can join a group, start a conversation, expand your network, participate in mentorship programs, explore professional development opportunities, find job openings, or even promote your business.
“OU Connection is a resource for alumni and students to engage with the OU community to help further their career goals. It also provides a meaningful connection point for students and alumni to find mentors in their field of study for peer-to-peer coaching and collaboration.”
Perhaps the most useful feature of the site is the directory of more than 1,900 current OU Connection members. All members are verified as current OU students, faculty, or alumni when registering to join OU Connection, ensuring that every individual you meet is a part of the OU family.
Members can use the directory to find other members by name, professional or group affiliation, or a variety of other parameters. Members can also search a location in the U.S. or around the world using an interactive map that shows how many OU Connection members are located in any city.
“OU Connection members can be found across the nation and around the world,” Price said. “We want to make it easy for members to find each other and start making connections.”
A member’s entry shows their name, a photo, current job title, the degree they obtained at OU and their major area of study, as well as their affiliations within OU Connection itself. Members can invite each other to join groups, to individual chats, or to even form mentoring, professional, or personal community groups within the site.
Most OU graduates feel a close affinity to the university, and many have the desire to give back to the community that helped them achieve their dreams. Becoming a mentor is just one part of developing a broader network of colleagues that OU Connection offers.
By leveraging the search power of the directory, OU Connection provides a convenient way for you to find a potential mentor in your local area or professional field who can help you to expand your personal and professional networks.
More than 750 OU Connection members are currently giving back to the OU community through the site.
“We wanted to make sure our members could choose to become mentors to the next generation of graduates if they wanted to,” Price said. “Mentoring relationships can take many forms, and we wanted to make sure mentors could choose exactly how they want their mentorships to operate and what areas they want their mentorships to cover.”
Some mentors on the site may offer to help with resume reviews and personal brand development, while others are willing to assist with mock interviews and provide feedback about performance, Price said. Others are willing to give advice about navigating the career path in a given industry or even offer introductions to professional connections, while others may even offer to open doors at their own or affiliated workplaces.
Groups are another powerful resource with OU Connection. Any user can create a group and become that group’s administrator. Groups can be formed around college affiliation, degree or major programs, academic year, professional affiliations, or past student or interest group membership.
Groups can be open to all OU Connection members or only to individuals that meet certain criteria set by the group’s administrator. Premium groups offer even more customization options, including the ability to post group-specific job listings and provide access to career development resources.
“What I envision is for every college to have their own group, so alumni can reconnect with former classmates and develop relationships with individuals working in their current or prospective field as well as alumni clubs,” Price said. “Anything to help the site community feel more inclusive.”
Individual home pages on the site provide information about programs, courses, and professional development resources through a central feed. Once you sign on to OU Connection, you’ll find a central feed that includes news and information other members have posted to the feed, as well as any information from groups you may have joined. You’ll also see the names and images of the newest members to join OU Connection.
Members can find information about general or group-specific activities in the Events section of the site, while the Photos section includes images posted by members. The Business Directory provides a list of OU-related businesses posted by community members, while the Jobs section highlights job openings posted by the OU Career Center and the OU Online Career Center via Handshake for individuals who are actively seeking employment or career development resources.
“When alumni of the university need some sort of professional development, I want them to think of OU, OU Connection, the OU Career Center, and OU Online first,” Price said. “I want them to be able to easily access the resources their alma mater has to help them through their particular situation.”
OU Connection is currently in the middle of a membership drive. Now through November 4, current members are encouraged to invite friends, family, and colleagues who are OU students, alumni, or faculty to join the community and introduce themselves on the central feed, sharing that you invited them. The five members who help the most new members join by the deadline will receive a prize pack of OU swag.
“There is a community gap that most people discover after they leave college and enter the working world,” Price said. “The strength of OU Connection is the community that it offers to current students, alumni, and faculty.”
For more information or to sign up for your own OU Connection account, visit ouconnection.com.