Last spring, Calle Biles ’20 started a spreadsheet to keep track of job applications. Looking over the document, she realized she had applied for 50 different positions. She wasn’t making headway with her job search.
After getting in contact with the VMI Alumni Association, Biles was quickly called for an interview. The interview resulted in a job offer. At the Alumni Association, she worked with Thom Brashears ’95, the Association’s chief operating officer, and Meg Ayers ’19, the Association’s program outreach director. They reviewed Biles’ resume and put her in touch with other alumni in her career field.
“I didn’t really realize how strong the alumni network was,” Biles said. “It was like a godsend.”
Early last spring, COVID-19’s effects on job prospects became evident. The Alumni Association kicked into high gear, knowing alumni would need connections and support. Brashears and his team worked hard to improve and enhance the Association’s outreach subcommittee. This subcommittee has alumni contacts organized by job field and location. They connect job seekers with contacts and mentors.
“The Alumni Association always helps alumni in their job searches,” said Ayers. These enhancements simply provide job assistance more efficiently than ever. Alumni across the country are jumping on board to help each other in job searches and career transitions.
“I didn’t really realize how strong the alumni network was. It was like a godsend.”Callie Biles '20
Brashears also worked with VMI’s Office of Career Services. Together, they offered webinars, featuring successful alumni and tips to use while job hunting. In the spring, career services sent a survey to all non-commissioning members of the Class of 2020. They shared these responses with Brashears – which is how Biles’ resume landed on his desk.
In a separate line of effort, Brashears coordinated a nationwide effort to introduce 2020 graduates to alumni chapters. Each region hosted a welcome gathering via the Zoom digital platform. Chapter leadership made introductions, let alumni know why chapters exist and how local alumni help one another.
All told, 75% of alumni who contacted the Alumni Association for help with job searches since spring 2020 have received offers.
“The network works,” Brashears said. “If you are looking for a job, give us a call. Send us an email. We are here to help.”
Molly Rolon Editorial Specialist
The editorial specialist assists the editor-in-chief in various tasks relating to the production of quarterly and monthly publications, as well as prepares written materials for publication.