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LSA Connect, our LSA-exclusive online networking and mentorship platform, is celebrating nearly three years of creating meaningful encounters between LSA alums and students! Since its debut in 2020, nearly 275,000 actions have been taken on the platform, fostering over 2,100 unique student-to-alum connections.
We spoke with LSA students Brooke Hudson, Yu-Jin Choi, and Aysha Chowdhury to hear about their first-hand experiences using the platform and also the transformative relationships and opportunities that have emerged from spending time connecting with alums. Read on to hear how LSA Connect is impacting student success and three ways it’ll help launch your career.
1. Growing Your Network & Identifying Mentors
LSA Connect, similar to LinkedIn, is a way to connect and chat with professionals in your desired industry, location, or role. However, unlike LinkedIn, LSA Connect is highly personalized to suit your needs. We know “networking” can sound icky, but how about simply, “finding your people”?
With LSA Connect, you can use filters to sort through and identify alums on the platform who know the ins and outs of LSA classes, have had similar experiences, and have traversed the career exploration journey that accompanies a liberal arts and sciences education. Plus, they’re eager to offer support and mentorship, as they were once in your shoes.
Soon-to-be senior, Yu-Jin Choi, is studying Communications and Media. She met her mentor through LSA Connect and the Hub’s mentorship program and attributes much of her professional experience and success to their mentoring relationship. Yu-Jin, who is interested in marketing and business, and dreams of starting a business of her own one day, identified a mentor who’s also in the marketing industry and founded her own consulting company.
“My mentor has given me a lot of advice on how to strengthen my resumé and cover letter – because of her experience, she knows what people in our industry are looking for,” Yu-Jin said. She also leaned on her alum mentor to practice interview skills in a low-stakes environment. Yu-Jin explained that the interview prep and support with application materials are what helped her secure her ITS internship this summer.
After accepting the ITS internship, Yu-Jin continued using the platform and identified an additional alum on LSA Connect who worked for the ITS department as an engineer. This alum then introduced Yu-Jin to a colleague in a marketing and communications role within the department, fostering yet another valuable connection, as Yu-Jin was very interested in this particular role.
This is a common outcome for LSA Connect student users, as 95.8% of alums say they would recommend the student they met to a friend or colleague. Growing your network and social capital step by step can be rewarding in both long- and short-term scenarios.
“My mentor has given me a lot of advice on how to strengthen my resumé and cover letter – because of her experience, she knows what people in our industry are looking for."
2. Exploring Promising Career Options
Brooke Hudson, a recent Psychology grad, explained that she joined LSA Connect during her second year at U-M. After completing a full year of nursing school and realizing that vocation wasn’t right for her, she set off on a path of exploration.
“I used LSA Connect primarily for informational interviews,” Brooke said. She wanted to figure out what careers were available for an emerging professional with an LSA degree and which ones piqued her interest.
In chatting with alums on the platform and seeking career guidance, Brooke received a bevy of great advice, including: your major does not equal your career.
Brooke said, “I didn’t think I could get a job with a psychology degree, but LSA alums convinced me that my major didn’t matter [in the scale of time].” She admits that she had a paradigm shift towards the liberal arts education after speaking with alums about their experiences. This year, Brooke will begin her post-grad career as an Associate Development Officer for U-M LSA sharing the true value of a liberal arts education and what she learned in her exploration journey.
Reaching out to alums can offer extremely valuable and transformative insights into the realities of a liberal arts degree and the vast range of career opportunities that are open for you to explore and pursue. Brooke’s experience is a testament to this.
When asked what advice she would give to other students who aren’t yet active on LSA Connect, she said, “Use it – it’s one of your most important tools and the sooner you start making connections, the better.”
"It’s one of your most important tools and the sooner you start making connections, the better.” -Brooke Hudson
3. Job & Internship Opportunities
Rising sophomore Aysha Chowdhury is interested in pursuing neuroscience and pre-med, and has actively used LSA Connect to gain industry knowledge from alums and identify professional opportunities. She has been intentional about making connections with alums in the medical profession, from practicing doctors, to those who are still in their residency.
Alums on the platform have supported Aysha in many ways, from helping seek out internship opportunities to providing advice on the PhD application process. After joining LSA Connect, she was matched with a mentor in her desired field of work.
“My mentor encouraged me to explore many areas of work and reminded me that I can major in anything and still get the job I want,” Aysha said. Although she is still exploring her career options, Aysha’s mentor shared a link to an open Biomedical Research and Life Sciences internship position for which she applied and secured this summer in Ann Arbor.
“It’s helpful to know there are people who care about my success, especially as a first gen student,” Aysha said. “I encourage other LSA students to join – there are a lot of ways the alums can support you and it’s on your own time!”
LSA Connect can act as a lifeline for all students, but especially for recent graduates and seniors. If you’re feeling uncertain about your next steps, taking a few minutes to connect with alums–many of whom are recent grads and young professionals–and ask for advice that can broaden your perspective and potentially open doors to job opportunities.
“My mentor encouraged me to explore many areas of work and reminded me that I can major in anything and still get the job I want.” -Aysha Chowdhury
Whether you’re still exploring paths or newly graduated, LSA Connect is the key to easily building professional relationships that can act as the stepping stones to a fulfilling and purposeful career. Taking actionable steps that are as simple as sending an introductory private message to an alum on the platform or dropping a public question on the discussion board, can blossom into long-term mentoring relationships that evoke valuable life lessons, professional skills, career exploration and clarity, and industry experience through jobs and internships.
Joining the LSA Connect community means unlimited access to invaluable advice, industry knowledge, and potential opportunities brought forth by over 1,200 U-M LSA alums. Log in or sign up today.