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An alumni network is not only for meeting from time to time and exchanging yarns about the good old days. It can be a strong pillar to fall back on when the chips are down.  Like me, I am sure you know of many cases where the alumni network has helped people get jobs, settle down in foreign and nearly alien surroundings and in medical emergencies.

In business schools, career offices play the part of helping students start off on their professional careers as also helping organisations get the talent they seek. We in India are more familiar with “placement” as a term for such offices in business schools. In some schools these have been very effective. They have helped the school gain an enviable reputation for the quality of its alumni. In others, they are more mechanical- aided perhaps by the big demand for talent which makes their work much easier, anyway. In yet others, the old joke goes that they have to be woken up from their slumber as the end of another year -and the time for a new batch to pass out- draws near.

It was interesting to read in the Wall Street Journal that career offices of many top business schools in the US have sprung into action to help their alumni in danger of losing their jobs because of the on-going crisis. Just a day after Lehman Bros said they would file for bankruptcy, all 26 alumni of the 2008 batch of Chicago’s Graduate School of Business got calls from their career office. They offered to discuss alternate options and strategies to tide over the uncertainties ahead.

This is terrific service. Imagine how reassuring and comforting such calls would have been to those affected. This, to my mind, is a case of the career office taking full responsibility to help their alums.- in tough times and not only when the going is good.

If I were one of those students I am sure I would in turn do whatever I could to help my alma mater in return- wouldn’t you?

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This is Post No: 295 of the “A Step A Day” series : To provide perspective and provoke thought to facilitate self-development across a wide spectrum of issues- big and small- crucial for executive success.

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