University News

Online network helps alums find jobs

By
Senior Staff Writer

Justin Traxler ’90 was laid off in 2008. After months of hunting for employment, Traxler secured a position with Sapient Consulting in May 2009 — thanks to the other Brown alumni he contacted during his search.

The firm, which according to its Web site offers business and technology consulting, was coincidentally a client of Traxler’s previous company. He already knew some of the people at his new job, but he still credits Brown’s alumni network with helping him in his search.

“I guess this whole experience taught me that — wow — I wish someone had taught me this 20 years ago,” Traxler said. 

Traxler is not the only alum taking advantage of Brown’s services and connections in the tough economic climate — and in the months since Traxler’s own search, the University’s Alumni Relations staff has launched more initiatives to help alums search for new jobs.

In June 2009, Eve Ornstedt, the director of alumni services and career programs, and her team debuted the “Career Navigator” Web site. Thousands of alumni, from a range of graduation years, have used the site since then, she said. According to numbers provided by Ornstedt, as of last month, use of the site has more than doubled since July.

The Career Navigator site has four major components: a self-assessment that lets users evaluate their work interests, personalities and skills; an industry research tool; a job board for alumni to post positions for other Brown alumni; and BRUnet, which helps users network with alumni volunteers.

Ornstedt said the site also features an online seminar, which she and her colleagues are looking to extend into a series, she said.

In addition to Alumni Relations’ efforts, individual alumni themselves have extended a helping hand to other Brown graduates in need of jobs.

Jay Candelmo ’99 participated in a “career week” and several sessions and panels designed to help alumni and seniors find jobs. 

Candelmo, who is also on the Alumni Association’s Board of Governors, said he understands the importance of networking from personal experience — he got his current job with Lincoln Financial Group in 2008 after connecting with a Brown grad from the class of 1973.

“I benefited from the informal alumni network in a very tangible way,” Candelmo said.
“You can be helpful with each other,” Ornstedt said. “That’s part of the value of what Brown is.”

Candelmo said he was impressed with Brown’s efforts to help alumni connect and find jobs by creating the Career Navigator site, holding panels and informational sessions and promoting Web sites that facilitate networking, like LinkedIn and Facebook.

When Traxler secured his new job, he also planted a seed for helping other Brown graduates looking for employment. He told his employer about Brown’s Career Navigator so they could post their own job listings to the site. Traxler also said Sapient Consulting now has a recruiter who collaborates with Brown’s Alumni Relations to help alums looking for jobs.

“What better way to help my alma mater and employer at the same time?” Traxler said.
 In the future, Ornstedt said Alumni Relations will maintain the Career Navigator site and is considering offering counseling for alumni who have been unable to find jobs, though she noted that Alumni Relations is not staffed for one-on-one counseling. They also continue to track what job search and networking services other Ivy League schools offer to their alumni.

“There’s just so much energy going on that we’re just trying to be as proactive as possible,” Ornstedt said.