U.S. university alumni share their experiences of studying in the United States and tips for prospective students.
Alumni networks are beneficial for educational institutions, prospective and current students, and the alumni themselves. Many U.S. institutions successfully integrate alumni and student engagement, enhance their experience and, in turn, increase the value of higher education for students and alumni.
Student experience and satisfaction have become important measures of success and are vital to the process of choosing a university. The alumni voice, therefore, is an important assessment of an institution. Alumni have the potential to positively impact and be an education institution’s valuable asset.
Here are five U.S. university alumni and their experiences.
Dilpreet Singh, Master of Laws (LLM), University of California, Berkeley, 2012. Vice president, Berkeley Club of Delhi.
Rahul Handa, Post-Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master’s in International Management, Arizona State University, 2002. Alumni member.
Rasika Rane, Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering, Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, Miami University, 2017.
Riddhi Mehta, Master of Business Administration (MBA), University of Michigan- Flint, 2012. Member, Alumni Association of University of Michigan.
Saurav Sinha, Master of Fine Arts in Film Production, Full Sail University, 2015. Ambassador, International Student Society.
How did the experience at your university help you land your first job after graduation?
Sinha: My first position after graduation was that of a digital imaging technician. At Full Sail University, students were required to complete a thesis project, where we were exposed to the entire range of processes. My instructor was instrumental in helping me excel in digital data.
Rane: After graduation from Miami University, I went on to a different university for my master’s. My experience at Miami University prepared me for higher education and helped me get into the university of my choice. My professors helped me find my passion and choose the right places to apply. They guided me throughout my application process, from polishing my résumé and helping me with my personal statement to giving me recommendations. My coursework articles and published work for the collegiate newspaper made for a good portfolio, which I could put out with my application.
Which opportunities on campus are the most useful for students?
Sinha: Since there was a thesis shot every month at school, I gained hands-on experience at almost every position. Not only did I work with film students, I also worked with music, game and animation students on their projects. This produced a 360-degree experience for me.
Rane: The on-campus networking events are the most useful to learn from. They are complementary to the education we get in class and are excellent spaces to implement one's education in real life.
Mehta: I think, working on campus immediately puts you to test and helps you grow, both professionally and personally. It is a great learning experience, no matter what job you do.
If you could go back in time to change one thing about your experience at your college or university, what would you choose and why? What is the one piece of advice you wish you had been given?
Singh: Find more time to spend with your peers and professors, and soak in as much as you can.
Rane: I completed my double major in three years by taking classes during winter and summer semesters. I wanted to get the degrees in as less time as possible. I wish I hadn’t done that and taken my time to explore myself in that space. A piece of advice that I wish I had received is this: Take your time with your education. Do not rush just because you want to get ahead in the world. Instead, invest time in discovering yourself. When you know who you are and recognize your interests, things will fall into place and lead you to success.
Sinha: I really wish there were hostels or dorms on campus. That was the only thing I missed. It helps students be available for classes easily, without worrying about transportation or safety issues.
Mehta: I truly would not change a thing. All my experiences have shaped me into who I am today. My best advice would be to focus on the larger picture and not choose your school based on a factor or two alone. Just like a doctor's prescription for each patient is different, the best-fit school for each person is different.
Please share some tips on networking.
Rane: Make full use of the resources that the university has to offer. Attend the career fairs and networking events that are available to you. These events are a great place to make a grand entry into the professional world. Once, you've established connections, use social media to put your story out and make an impact.
Sinha: Students should be active in alumni networks. Full Sail provides a dedicated portal and consultant, even after graduation, for jobs. Students should stay in touch with their instructors, as they can recommend you in the industry.
Mehta: I think, what is more important than seeking out new opportunities is to first identify and make the most use of the opportunities that are already around us.
How should prospective or admitted students engage with alumni networks?
Handa, Sinha, Mehta: Attend events organized by alumni networks or chapters or associations.
Singh: Look for mentors within alumni networks.
Rane: Connect on LinkedIn.
Aastha Virk Singh is a senior adviser, EducationUSA at United States-India Educational Foundation, New Delhi.