You might wonder how someone with roots in Leroy, Kansas, population 561, could come from such a humble beginning and end up in New York as the founder of the second-largest (hope largest soon—all Jayhawks strive to be No. 1) parking company in the United States. I attribute it to the University of Kansas and the incredible network and power of the Jayhawk brand.
KU for me was the gateway to a much bigger possibility. Believe me, it was a quantum leap to go to KU, where there were more students in my organic chemistry class than in my whole high school. I struggled through a lot of it, but being a Jayhawk and thinking about all of the other brilliant Jayhawks made me determined to be a part of this incredible connection of people. Looking back to graduation in 1981 (wow, that long ago?), just the commitment to step into the challenge and complete it was such a catapult of energy. There was nothing that I could not achieve.
While I would love to say that I was an outrageously successful student (nope), or that I was a wildly popular party guy (hardly), I had an amazing experience nonetheless. How many of us can admit to getting a D in computer science, yet using that background to later start four software companies (yes, it’s true), or even building on an incredible 2.65 grade point average (rounded up to 3.0!) to become an innovator, industry leader and founder of a company with $1 billion in revenue and 8,000 employees? (Jayhawk Power!)
Today, in every meeting I attend, I have this Jayhawk sticker on the back of my portfolio. Ninety percent of the time, anyone I am meeting from around the world knows what the Jayhawk represents and wants to talk about it and how they have a KU connection. My wife, Leonor, a Southern California native, is now truly convinced that the world revolves around Kansas. I’ve always known it does.
Hey, Jayhawks, let’s hear your success stories and help you connect with fellow alumni. 2018 is going to Rock Chalk.
An article posted on LinkedIn praising the KU Office of Admissions’ student recruitment efforts has been spreading like wildfire among Jayhawks recently. The post, published in November by Ed Baldwin, a human resources strategist, analyzes KU’s recruitment of his son and compares it to a job candidate’s experience.
Baldwin, a graduate of the University of Iowa, explains that it’s often the little things that differentiate a school or employer from the competition, and he describes several small “extras” that KU staff member did to make his family feel special, such as sending personalized letters and emails to him and his wife.
“You’ve differentiated yourself amongst a field of great universities, and you may also be rewarded with a KU student attending in the Fall that is great young man because of it,” Baldwin writes.
Most KU alumni can remember the time when they applied for their first job after walking down the Hill. Years ago, the job application process included writing a cover letter, submitting a resume and, with any luck, receiving an invitation to interview. Your personal life was, well, personal. But that was before the Internet and social media.
Today, KU students are experiencing a new step in that process. Employers increasingly are taking to social media to vet applicants before deciding whether to extend an invitation to interview. Suddenly, that Twitpic from the Wheel or Facebook post from the Cave could cost you the job. I was recently invited to speak with KU students on the topic of how to manage your online reputation. Here are a few tips I shared with them.
Tip #1: Be consistent
We’ve all heard horror stories about incriminating antics surfacing on social media, but those situations are easily avoided with a little common sense. Future employers are really looking to see whether that impressively qualified applicant on paper is a completely different person in real life. On your resume, you’ll naturally include all of the specific attributes that make you a well-rounded candidate. Does your online persona reinforce that image, or paint a totally different picture? Be sure to promote your interests–both personal and professional–when engaging online so that your online image and reputation is consistent with the professional you aspire to be.
Tip #2: Be positive
Perhaps your passion is hard to hide, but recognize that not everyone shares your views on sports, politics or the latest scandal or controversy. More to the point, posts that include inflamatory remarks, foul language and a negative attitude can end up saying more about you than intended. Critical, disagreeable or argumentative posts can add up, affecting your image. Instead, take every opportunity to position yourself in a positive way, and you’ll stay above the fray, expressing yourself with grace and candor. Use social media as an opportunity to showcase your savvy communication skills and good judgement.
Tip #3: Be authentic
Finally, be true to yourself. In marketing parlance we refer to a brand’s personality as its “voice.” If you demonstrate your personality and your values consistently, then you have integrity. Share your interests, your activities and your outlook on life by using social media in a positive way that is consistent with your values. It might cause you to think twice about posting something to the world wide web that could come back to haunt you.
Follow these tips, and future employers will be sure to see the “real” you.
Career-minded KU alumni have flocked to the professional networking site, Linkedin, to connect with Jayhawks. Today, the official KU Alumni-University of Kansas group on Linkedin received a dozen more requests to join, giving the group more than 20,000 members! Among peer institutions, this places the KU Alumni Association alongside the most active alumni networks.
In 2008, when social media sites were popularized and usage skyrocketed, especially among adults 25+, the KU Alumni Association established a presence on the most popular of these sites: Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin. Twitter and Facebook followers generated a steady increase of likes and online engagement, but nothing like the growth we experienced on Linkedin. Within weeks of starting the KU Alumni group, requests to join exceeded the group’s capacity, and we had to ask Linkedin to increase the group size to 5,000. A few months later, we passed the 10,000 member mark. This was no surprise to us. Sure, KU alumni are proud of their KU affiliation, but on Linkedin, it becomes more than an affinity; your KU education becomes an important and valuable credential. For Jayhawk job-seekers, a connection to the University of Kansas helps them stand out from the crowd. Our group also allows them to connect with successful alumni, with a discussion board and searchable member directory.
There are more than 100,000 Linkedin profiles belonging to Jayhawks–KU alumni or students–looking to join the workforce or advance their careers. Since rolling out university pages this year, Linkedin has made it even easier to search for KU alumni based on where they live, where they work and what they do (see below or click here). Looking to land that internship at Google? You’ll find 50+ KU alumni and students with a connection to the company on their profiles. Moving to Chicago? Connect with some of the nearly 5,000 KU alumni on Linkedin. If you’re not on Linkedin, check it out and connect with us today!
And if you’re already connected to KU on Linkedin, thanks for helping us strengthen the Jayhawk network! Rock Chalk!