by Joan Hawxhurst

Now is a great time to join the Guilds of Kalamazoo College, for professional networking, career mentoring, and employment posting in an online community of individuals who care about “K.” 

Total membership in the Guilds has grown by 10 percent in the last two months alone.  Why?  Because students and alumni recognize the benefits of joining these exclusive professional networks on LinkedIn (the “professional Facebook,” a public platform with more than 135 million members in more than 200 countries and territories).  Whether your goal is to recruit a talented and passionate liberal arts graduate, offer your advice and expertise to young professionals, or simply stay abreast of what’s happening in career development at your alma mater, you’ll get results through the Guilds, where:

More than 875 individuals with a "K" connection are available to answer career questions, make introductions to other professionals, and discuss trends and current issues in their industries and workplaces.

The Business Guild alone has more 200 members; each of the current Guilds has passed the 100-member mark.

Throughout fall quarter, an average of 18 live employment opportunities were posted by Guild members each week on the "Jobs" tabs.

The Guilds offer a tangible way to "give back" to your alma mater by sharing your expertise and networks with the next generation of "K" professionals.

As students become alumni and move along career paths, it's easy to stay connected for a lifetime.

When you visit the Guilds on LinkedIn, you’ll see that there are currently five active Guilds—Business, Health, Justice & Peace, Law, and Sustainability—as well as two “pre-Guilds” for Arts and Education.  Each Guild’s page has a tab for discussions (where students ask questions about everything from how to become a genetic counselor to how best to use one’s sophomore summer in preparation for a legal career to finding a job in a health field), members (where you can see each individual’s educational and professional experience, skills, and connections), and jobs (for postings of internship and entry-level opportunities of interest to that particular Guild’s membership).

Who is joining the Guilds online?  Attorneys, entrepreneurs, managers, artists, climate change analysts, marketers, teachers, scientists, community organizers, corporate recruiters and public servants, all bound together by their connection to Kalamazoo College.  Many of these professionals find a home within one of the five existing Guilds; others simply join the main Guilds group for broad “K” connections and networking.

Business developer Matt Bunkowski ’00 has relied on LinkedIn for about a decade to make professional connections, to recruit new talent, to keep abreast of new technologies and trends in particular industries related to his business, and most recently to participate in the Guilds.

Through LinkedIn, Matt has “direct connections to about 1,000 people and indirect connections to more than 5.5 million people,” he says.  “Ten or fifteen years ago, it would have been almost impossible to leverage one's connections to a level anywhere near that.”  

Matt sees the Guilds on LinkedIn “as a great way to keep abreast of what's
"Alumni both give to and receive from the Guilds' professional networks..."
taking place on campus, but also a way to participate and give back from afar as well.  This can easily be done without taking up too much time or being too intrusive or distracting from other responsibilities,” he says.  “I have been quite successful in my short career, largely due to the help and mentoring from my network through ‘K’ and beyond.  The LinkedIn groups are an easy way for a person to give back as well as to identify and recruit that next potential superstar.  Additionally, they also enable professionals to expand their own networks and establish themselves as thought leaders or industry experts.”

Matt is among more than 500 “K” alumni who are both giving to and receiving from the Guilds’ exclusive professional networks.  National recruiting trend spotters point to increasing alumni involvement in the targeting, courting, and mentoring of new corporate talent.  At the same time, national college rankings place a value on new graduates’ successful job searches. The Guilds position Kalamazoo College to leverage its alumni network in support of its national reputation, in turn raising the value of a “K” degree.

If you're new to LinkedIn, you can use the CCPD website to get started.  We've posted helpful information, FAQs (including, for example, “Who can see my profile and what will they see?”), and easy-to-follow tutorials at:  The Center for Career and Professional Development looks forward to welcoming many more "K" alumni as Guild members in the months to come.  

Photo 1 - The growth of the Guilds is attributable in part to some fine Guilds “gardeners,” including (L-R): Joan Hawxhurst, Pam Sotherland, and Rachel Wood.

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