The phrase "It's not what you know; it's who you know" can be a common phrase to hear. The further you get in your career journey, it doesn't ring any less true. The Student-Alumni Career System is designed to help you build professional connections with the click of a button. However, the Road to Industry programs (RTIPS) take this a step further by matching students to an alumna or alumnus, who they have access to for six months, and hopefully beyond!
The RTIPS program emphasizes the importance of networking and not solely making connections but building and cultivating them. Have you kept in touch with past bosses? When was the last time you caught up with a coworker? With RTIPS, now it's time to start. Cold emails or LinkedIn invites can be intimidating as you may not know how to start the conversation or how to get the recipient's attention. However, with RTIPS, you and your future mentor already have something in common: Rutgers! The program offers the opportunity for students to bond with alumni who may have shared the same professors, major or minor, and resources to get to where they are today.
You may be tempted to rely on yourself and your abilities throughout your job search. However, what can help distinguish you in the vast applicant pool is a connection that can help open the door and vouch for your abilities. As if students are applying for a job, applicants will submit a resume and cover letter, followed by a round of interviews. Once students are accepted, they will be meticulously matched with an alumna or alumnus based on their professional goals and interests.
Applicants have three tracks to choose from:
- Road to Communication & Media Program (RTCM)
- Road to Government, Policy & Service (RTGPS)
- Road to Food, Animals & the Environment (RTFAE)
Ally Cerini, a Rutgers '19 graduate and Communication major, was a mentee in the RTCM program in her junior year. She states, "I still remained in touch with my mentor and reached out during my senior year to see if any positions were open at her company. She was able to get me an interview, and shortly after, I got the job!" She continues, "Thanks to the RTCM program and my mentor, I was prepared for the professional world and got a job right after graduating from college. It really showed me the importance of networking and maintaining professional relationships with those you meet during the process."
Victoria Ludington, a Rutgers '21 graduate and RTGPS mentee, discusses her experience, "My mentor was Erica Jedynak, who is the Director of Employment Initiatives at Stand Together. I loved speaking with her not only on advice concerning courses and internships but also on her current role and day to day work." She adds, "She suggested I apply to a program at the Eagleton Institute of Politics called the Susan N. Wilson NEW Leadership program, which is a conference for young women pursuing careers in politics and government. I still stay in touch with the women who attended the conference - it's so nice having a community of strong women supporting you!"
The RTIPS experience is what you make of it. It's up to your mentor and you to decide on the skills and goals you'd like to pursue. That could be scoring your dream position, strengthening your interview skills, or building a professional website. Cerini advises, "Students should know that to get the most success out of a program like this, they have to be willing to put in effort and time. They must maintain a strong relationship with their mentor, check in with them, shadow them at work, do whatever it takes to learn the most, and experience the most during and also after the program." She adds, "I had no professional connections in my career field before I started RTCM, nor did I know anything about networking. I learned that networking could be the entire foundation for the job search process."
Having been an RTCM mentee myself, I found it comforting to know that I'd have some professional support. This help proved invaluable when I applied for summer internships or had a question on which direction to take or the next steps. While I didn't land every position to which I applied, I believe the ones I did accept were instrumental in receiving later positions. Though I've always been tempted to figure a situation individually and refuse to ask for help, RTIPS made me realize that you can suffer out loud and ask for help. You can retain your independence and simultaneously have helping hands in your career journey.