Rochester Career Advisory Network (RCAN) is a new tool launched by the Career Center and Alumni Relations Office in December for the UR student community to connect with alumni.

To date over 10,000 alumni have joined the network, and the Career Center has launched a series of orientation sessions to train students on using the database and effective networking strategy.

What distinguishes RCAN from other networking efforts — such as Food for Thought and Networking Night – is that this is the first comprehensive database of alumni made available to all UR students, including undergraduates.

‘What I’ve wanted to tap into was the collective experience of the alums and that was why we made the Career Advisory Network,’ Director of Alumni Relations Kevin Wesley said.
Graduate schools have previously maintained separate alumni lists, such as the William E. Simon School of Business Administration and at the School of Medicine and Dentistry, which have maintained records for years.

‘[Undergraduate] students were allowed access to past offerings, but not to such an expansive and technologically enhanced system,’ Director of the Career Center Burt Nadler said.

RCAN is a component of the Rochester Alumni Exchange, a directory launched last spring for UR graduates to find other alumni.

One feature of RCAN and the Alumni Exchange is to search for career fields and keywords that let the student identify what niche area he or she is interested in.

Alumni Exchange, on the other hand, allows more search options than what undergraduates have access to: alumni can find others by past clubs, towns or recent announcements of marriage and births. Alumni have used these sites for career goals as well.

Both Web sites allow users to volunteer their personal information as desired – they can use it for everything from reconnecting with old friends to keeping updated on who just married or celebrated a birth – but in the end, alumni can choose whether they want to be found on the Web site. E-mail addresses are not shared with students either – e-mails are sent to a third party.

‘I think being available to be fully open about my career and my life journey is essential for their experience to be worthwhile,’ Sara Finiki ’04, co-chair of UR’s Young Alumni Council, said.

The registration process asks students to research networking, either by meeting with a counselor, attending an RCAN orientation session or visiting the Career Center’s library.

Then, students must send a ‘networking note’ to a Career Center counselor for approval. The network’s webmaster must grant students access.

Nadler encouraged students to seek help from the Career Center to learn how to approach networking.

‘Again, while all intuitively and confidently believe they know how to network, in truth, there are rights and wrongs, do’s and don’ts, and proper techniques that can be taught,’ Nadler said.

One alumnus, Rosie Foster ’83, commented on the value of networking to learn about career choices.

‘When it comes to working, there’s nothing like hearing about real-life experiences from alumni in networking-style events,’ Foster said. ‘Choosing a job or career is about so much more than just the work ‘hellip; When I speak with students at a networking event, I make sure they consider all aspects of a career choice in their decisions.’

Nadler also echoed the importance of networking in achieving career-minded goals.

‘Networking facilitates identification of career role models who can, with time and nurturing, become mentors and advocates who help students attain ever-clearer goals,’ Nadler said. ‘Networking can be specific outcome focused, most likely internship and job search related.’

In upcoming weeks the Career Center will be hosting orientation sessions while the Alumni Office is focusing on more recruitment, according to Wesley.

Leber is a member of the class of 2011.

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