Menu

Guidelines for Advisors 

 

The UMass Amherst Alumni Advisor Network, hosted by the Alumni Association, is a powerful new online tool that allows alumni to connect with students and with one another for career advice. Advisors can select the types of consultations they are willing to provide. Career conversations, resume reviews and mock interviews are all conducted over the phone or using audio on your computer.Alumni Advisors speaking with students

Review the "Frequently Asked Questions" below to learn more about this program. Alumni interested in more information can contact Karen Shultz at kshultz@umass.edu or 413.545.5540.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Alumni Advisors? The UMass Amherst Alumni Advisors program is powered by Firsthand, a company founded in 2009 that specializes in career coaching technology. They run a public platform in addition to creating specific platforms for colleges and universities.

How will this system help alumni? Alumni Advisors will help students and alumni find the expertise they need to fulfill their professional goals, practice for a big interview, and/or get insight into a particular career field or industry.

How much does it cost? Alumni Advisors is a resource available exclusively to the UMass Amherst community, and participation is free for advisors and advice seekers.

What can I expect if I sign up? As an advisor, you will receive a profile on Alumni Advisors site, viewable only by UMass Amherst alumni who request access as advisees. The online platform offers automatic phone calls, built-in-scheduling services, and a platform for file-sharing without revealing your last name, email or other contact information.

What types of advice can I offer? You are welcome to provide any career-related advice that you think is relevant to your advisee. Whether they are interviewing for a job, applying to graduate school, or learning about a specific industry, alumni want your unique perspective. Advisees are responsible for letting the advisor know what type of information or advice they are seeking. Feel free to ask your advisee for additional clarification on his or her needs and interests in advance of the conversation.

What do I do if I want to be an advisee in addition to being an advisor? What if I am not comfortable being an advisor at this time, but want to seek advice? All registered alumni advisors can register as advice seekers. Online registration takes less than a minute, and all you need is your name, email address and class year. If you are an alum who would only like to register as an advisee, please only register as an advice seeker.

How is my privacy protected? The UMass Amherst Alumni Association and Firsthand take the privacy of advisors very seriously. At no point is your phone number or email address given out. Advisees can contact you in advance, share files and schedule subsequent meetings by using their consultation home page. Everything is routed through the system to protect your privacy.

What if I want my profile hidden or removed? We can hide or delete your profile at any time, and for any reason. Please email Karen Shultz at kshultz@umass.edu with your request. 

Where on my profile should I discuss the ways in which I can be most helpful to students and alumni? We recommend filling out the summary at the top of your profile ("Summarize your background and expertise") as well as filling out details related to the type of consultations you are willing to offer (career conversations, resume reviews, and/or mock interviews). Generally, the more details the better, as they enable advisees to choose more suitable advisors and to ask more educated questions.

The function options in the platform do not accurately reflect what I do, yet the function field is required. How do I help advisees find my profile? Many advisees will be searching the platform not just by industry or function, but by keyword. We recommend adding relevant keywords throughout your profile. Possibilities for keywords include more specific job functions or industries (e.g. fundraising, sustainability, human services, psychology, bio tech, venture capital); diversity (for example, if you have diversity-based assets or training that you could bring to a consultation), or subsets of alumni you are most interested in advising (e.g. LGBTQ, first-generation, English majors, student-athletes).

When should I expect my first consultation? Your advisor profile will be "live" once it is complete, so you may receive a request any time after registering. You will be notified by email if you receive a consultation request. You can increase traffic to your profile in a number of ways, including adding a clear profile photo and adding detailed descriptions of your skills and experience. We also recommend updating your availability regularly so that when alumni contact you, it is a seamless scheduling process.

How should I prepare for my first consultation? The meeting request you receive by email from the Alumni Advisor program will have some suggested meeting times based on the preferred times listed in your profile. This meeting request will also include details about the type of advice the advisee is looking for (e.g. informational interview for investment banking). Once you accept the meeting request for a specific time, the Alumni Advisor prgram will send you a calendar invitation. In preparation for your meeting, we recommend you prepare as you would for any professional meeting. You can contact your advisee in advance of the meeting through the consultation home page (accessible on your advisor profile) if you have specific questions on what they would like to cover or if you want them to forward additional files to your attention. All information will be shared through this consultation page and we will notify you by email if the student contacts you.

How should I deliver negative feedback? During the course of your consultation, you may have opportunities to provide constructive feedback to your advisee. The advisee may have specifically asked for your recommendations on how to improve something, or a situation may arise unexpectedly during the course of your consultation. You should be honest with your advisee, but be sensitive to the fact that young alumni may have limited professional experience. When delivering your feedback, try to use positive language (e.g. improve, enhance, expand) rather than negative language (e.g. errors, weaknesses, faults). Your constructive feedback can help your advisee to avoid similar mistakes in professional situations in the future.

What is the cancellation policy? An advisor can reschedule a meeting as long as it is accepted by the advisee and it is at least 48 hours in advance of the session. Sessions canceled within 48 hours of a session will be reviewed; multiple late cancellations could result in the suspension of your profile.

How can I limit the number of requests for consultations that I receive? As an advisor, you can limit the number of consultation requests that you receive per month. Once you hit your limit, your profile won't show up in search results or be available for requests until you enter a new 30-day period. You can set up this limit when you register or any time you log in to your account to update your profile.

You are also welcome to reject any specific requests for consultations that you receive, especially if you feel like another advisor is likely to be more useful to an advisee than you can be. If this is the case, simply decline the request and provide a reason to the advisee requesting the consultation.

How can I share feedback about my advising experience? Feedback from advisor to advisee typically occurs within the consultation and remains confidential. If you have a concern about a particular advisee or if you would like to share feedback about your experience as an advisor, please email Karen Shultz at kshultz@umass.edu or alumni@admin.umass.edu and include any relevant information.