Boost your professional network after your Chevening year

Reflecting on the experiences you’ve gained during your Chevening year, it’s likely a cocktail of new knowledge, skills, cultural opportunities, and people that fill your thoughts.

Now, as you look ahead to what the future might bring, it’s important to remember that it’s often those new connections that can have the largest impact on your journey moving forward.

That was certainly the case for Vanja Kljajevic, a Chevening Alumna who graduated from Queen Mary University in 2016 before returning to her home in Montenegro.

Returning home after your Chevening year is a transforming experience in many ways. You bring back to your home country a lot of unique perspectives, in terms of knowledge and cultural diversity. Seeking out fellow Cheveners who share the same values is a natural expansion of your professional and personal growth path.

A wide network, composed of professionals from within your industry and beyond, can provide you with a wealth of opportunities. They may be able to provide insights into potential career paths or target companies. They also provide an ideal pool of mentors who can lend their expertise when you’re faced with a new task or problem at work.

And when it comes to job opportunities, there could be someone in your network right now who will provide you with that all-important internship or job posting that will kickstart the next step in your career.

So, what are the best ways to expand your network when you return home after your Chevening year? Here are three options.

Join your local Chevening Alumni Association 

An easy step that you can take is joining your local Chevening Alumni Association. Chevening Alumni Associations are present across the globe, and your local association will connect you with fellow Cheveners in your home country.

The graduate version of you is different to the one who began their Chevening journey over a year ago—you have new knowledge, skills and ideas, and your local alumni association will provide you with likeminded people whom you can share this with.

You can gain access to various opportunities through your local association, including attending events and finding people to collaborate on projects with. It’s also somewhere you can socialise. Happily, you’ll find that you’re never far away from a Chevening Alumni Association. Check out this handy map to find your local association.

Another important thing to remember when starting out on your post-study networking journey: it’s vital that you’re interacting with the right people. That means those who are active within your field of interest.

So while your local Chevening Alumni Association will connect you with fellow scholars across various sectors, it’s also a good idea to join a Chevening Alumni Alliance (CAA) network that is tailored towards people with similar interests to yourself.

As alumni subnetworks that focus on a range of different career fields and identities, joining the relevant CAA network ensures you are connecting with the right people.

For Myriam Stern, who graduated from King’s College London in 2011, these networks provided a vital networking tool after leaving university.

I’ve met extraordinary people through the CAA and the local alumni associations, and they’ve provided me with guidance or another network of contacts throughout my life. I’ve also learned so much from the people I’ve met and all of that definitely helps me build a better professional network.

Play an active role on social media

Associations should be your first step when connecting with other Cheveners, however you can also use social media to build your network after returning home.

A good starting point is to join the official Chevening Alumni groups on LinkedIn and Facebook, where Cheveners share their experiences, interact, and organise meet-ups.

Outside of the Chevening network you’ll also find a wide variety of groups, forums, and communities on social media that are relevant to you on both a personal and professional level.

Perform a quick search around specific professions, topics, or identities and you’ll soon find avenues to expand your network further afield.

For Emmanuel Artusa-Barrell, international business and politics graduate from Queen Mary University of London and current President of the Chevening Alumni Alliance, both the Chevening Alumni Associations and social media activity more broadly proved essential in his networking journey after returning home to Argentina.

My advice to build a professional network is to use both the events organised by your local Chevening Association but also professional social networks such as LinkedIn. Get in touch, send contact requests, ask more senior Cheveners for advice, for what they did when they returned. They would be delighted to share their experience with you.

Keep on top of updates in your community

Whether you’re connecting with people through associations or via social media, it’s always a good idea to be clued up on what’s happening in the community and any specific areas of interest.

If you’re planning on being an active member within your CAA network, for example, make sure you’re up to date with the latest occurrences in your industry. If it’s your local alumni association that you’re hoping to play a part in, try to keep an eye on what’s going on in the Chevening community there.

A good place to start is the Chevening alumni newsletter, The Connection, which shows you what other inspiring Cheveners are up to throughout the year. You can also share your achievements with the for the chance to be featured in The Connection or on Chevening’s social media channels.

Staying updated will help you become an integral part of the Chevening community, and help you build a professional network that can last for years to come.

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