How Networking Opened New Doors for One Student

It’s not about the classes you take, but the hands you shake. This mantra burned into Robert Roloff’s memory as a freshman and stuck with him all throughout his years at the University of Central Missouri. It helped him land a long-term internship on campus with Sodexo, the dining services company, by networking with Tau Kappa Epsilon alumni. When it was time for the 2016 graduate to further explore career options, the UCM Alumni Advisor Network was a natural first step.

Though it can be intimidating to reach out to alumni, Robert believes “connections are huge. [The Alumni Advisor Network] is one of the best and easiest ways to connect with someone. If an alum is signed up, it means they’re willing to help you gain experience or knowledge about their career or industry.”

Robert wisely took a couple classes in sales but had no idea where to apply his degree in marketing. Through the UCM Alumni Advisor Network, he contacted Michael “Jerry” Roberts ’86, a senior director at Microsoft, for an insider’s perspective.

“It’s great to have a focus, but keep the doors open.”

Jerry told Robert that marketing goes beyond brand management and involves areas like public relations, operations and technology. “It’s great to have a focus, but keep the doors open,” Jerry advised.

Knowing his degree was suited for many different careers gave Robert the confidence to begin his job search through a wide-angle lens. With the UCM Career Expo coming up, Robert looked forward to applying Jerry’s advice. But he also needed a great resume to get his foot in the door and impress the hundreds of companies and job recruiters coming to campus.

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For a resume critique, Robert again turned to the Alumni Advisor Network, contacting Andrew Ferguson ’08, director of media at North American Savings Bank. 

“Looking at the changes Andrew made, my resume became much stronger and more appealing,” Robert said. He credits his consultations on the UCM Alumni Advisor Network with helping him land a consulting analyst position with Cerner Corporation. 

The importance of the UCM Alumni Advisor Network for students and alumni was emphasized by both of Robert’s advisors. Impressed by Robert’s eagerness to learn and his thoughtfully prepared questions, Jerry said, “If I used this platform when I was a student, I would’ve been light years ahead.”

"Who you know makes things happen quicker and easier."

Andrew also elaborated on the power of networking. “Who you know makes things happen quicker and easier. Even if they can’t help you directly, they’ll know someone who does and connect you.” Andrew said that while he may not know a current UCM student personally, “you have to have the aptitude that no one is a stranger.” He and Robert discovered many common ties by sharing college memories and career goals, and reminiscing about Warrensburg.

As a recent alum, Robert is eager to give back to UCM and join the advisor side of the platform. “If someone is a freshman marketing student looking for advice, I’d happily give it to them now. I hope that instead of struggling senior year to find a job, students learn to make connections while they’re younger.”

About the UCM Alumni Advisor Network
Robert is just one of many students learning from alumni and exploring career paths through the UCM Alumni Advisor Network, powered by Firsthand. This platform connects students and alumni for one-on-one career advice, mock interviews, and resume critiques.

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