There is a saying that “A lot can happen with a cup of Tea” which might get you thinking as to what Alumni relations got to do with it.? Picture this, you have decided to meet an alumnus from an event or alumni site relevant to your field of interest, who is willing to guide and mentor you in your career goals or assist you in your job opportunities. How would you go about with it or how would you ask the right questions and tips to move ahead in your career?
The best way is to meet him/her for a cup of chai. You would be surprised a chai chat is not only an informal meetup for a “pre-interview” but it could also help you to understand yourself better, fine tune your skill sets, get opinions and tips to crack the interview and if luck shines on you the alumnus could even give you a good recommendation for your job or the vacancy in his/her company could be yours.
So here are five things you need to know before you proceed with your chai connection:
1. Plan the Logistics. – If you are suggesting the place to meet, choose a place where you can have a private conversation. Don’t forget to carry a book to pen down important notes and a resume in case the alumnus would like to forward it to his organisation. Come early by 20-30 minutes and offer to buy a cup of tea as it is a way of showing respect and creates a good impression to the alumnus.
2. Do your homework in advance – Read about the alumnus and study about the company he/she is working, especially if it is related to your field of interest. You could also check out the alumnus information on LinkedIn or the institute’s alumni association website. This will make you look well informed and avoid wasting time asking irrelevant questions. It is also better if you could make a list of questions pertaining your profile or about the company and its vacancy available in his/her company.
3. Purpose of the chai chat– Do you want to connect with the hiring manager of the company? Do you want suggestions or job openings in the industry? Planning can help you direct the conversation and avoid any waste of time. Prepare questions to start the conversation that asks about the company and draw relevance to your background into the discussion if it is suitable for that post.
4. Ask for advice, not help – When people give advice, they tend to get invested by helping you. Be specific about the advice you are seeking. Instead of “What advice do you have for someone pursuing a career in marketing?” try “Based on your experience working at XYZ Co, how do you recommend I prepare for my upcoming interview?”
5. Thank you note/email– Send a thank you note after the meeting for the advice and insights provided by your alumnus. It could happen after your chai chat; the person may send a quick email to the hiring manager or to HR with impressions of you as a potential fit for the company.
Every meeting with a company or contact, no matter how casual, is an interview. A cup of chai can turn into a job opportunity or a good recommendation.