Networks for life

How York alumni can boost your career

Networking is essential if you want to make the most of your opportunities as a new graduate. As a York alum, you can network with thousands of experienced, well-connected alumni at the top of their professions. In order to support our graduates with their careers, we set up the York Alumni Association (YAA) Networks in 2012. Since their launch more than 2,000 alumni have joined our professional community.

YAA Network events take place regularly in London, featuring diverse and inspiring speakers, and ample opportunities to connect with industry peers. Alongside the YAA Network events we also have sector-specific Network groups on LinkedIn that can help you to make connections with alumni in your chosen career.

We talked to a few YAA Network members about what they have gained from our events and LinkedIn groups, and why you should join them.

Jo Sanders (English and Related Literature, Derwent, 1993)
Partner, Harbottle & Lewis

One thing I appreciate more now than when I began my career is that any conversation can turn out to have unexpected benefits or offer new insights. It is always worthwhile meeting new people, especially when you already know there is some common ground.

As a Partner at media and entertainment law firm Harbottle & Lewis, I am fortunate to be a member of two of York’s professional Networks – Media, Journalism and PR, and also Management, Finance and Law, and I have seen direct and tangible benefits from my membership of both. A conversation with one alumnus led to my being invited to speak at an industry panel for public relations professionals.

I discovered that several of my clients are, in fact, York alumni and I have had the opportunity to catch up with them at events, where the attendee lists are diverse and impressive. The list of businesses which we York graduates collectively represent makes for powerful reading. But these Networks offer more than just a worthwhile networking occasion; there are real benefits we can offer to recent graduates simply in terms of knowledge of where to start to build a career, and providing them with some basic information.

This reminds me that I owe my career to a chance conversation with a lawyer more than 15 years ago, whose helpful advice about part-time courses led me to embark on legal training. I have not forgotten that conversation, though I am sure the lawyer in question has long done so. I would be delighted to think that I might be able to  give similar inspiration to  the talented and ambitious graduates I have met.

Victoria LeeVictoria Lee (Politics, Langwith, 2012)
Founder and MD, Socialee Media

My decision to attend a YAA Media, Journalism and PR event soon after graduation was one of the best I’ve ever made. The connections I made at that event helped me find my first grad job on The Mirror’s digital team. The chance to talk to media industry leaders over a glass of wine was both inspiring and (surprisingly) nowhere near as intimidating as I expected. Networking can be nerve-racking, but when you’re chatting with people who share the experience of avoiding angry geese for three years, you will always have something to talk about!

The YAA Networks are active on LinkedIn, making it easy to maintain long-term professional connections. Through the Networks and the fantastic YuMentor scheme, I was able to find a business mentor who has advised me as I’ve built up my own media business. I encourage all York alumni to get involved in a relevant Network – whether you make a new professional connection or have an inspiring chat about your passions, you will be certain to get something out of each event.

Jonathan Duff (English and Related Literature, Derwent, 1999)
Deputy Director, Department for Education

The economic climate is tougher now than when I graduated from York, so we need to make the most of our connections to compete. That is why professional networking is so important.

For new graduates, the Networks are an opportunity to make contacts in the sector that interests them, or to get some professional advice; for those already working, it’s an opportunity to expand your network and develop your business; and for those further along in their career, it’s an opportunity to give something back to the next generation of York graduates, and a smart way to identify new talent. I have been impressed by the calibre of people I have met so far through the organised events. I would encourage all graduates to get involved and make the most of this opportunity.