5 Reasons VAM is an Essential Platform for UVA Students
Last year, I was fortunate enough to be introduced to UVA’s alumni mentoring platform, VAM, by a member of the UVA Career Center. Ever since then, I have used VAM religiously to connect with alumni in the field I’m entering after graduation. If you haven’t yet heard of VAM, it is a fantastic resource that provides a place for current UVA students to search for and connect with Virginia alumni who are interested in mentoring students.
For those who may be unfamiliar with VAM or haven’t had a chance to utilize the platform, I wanted to explain five reasons why Virginia Alumni Mentoring is such a great resource for UVA students.
- First, VAM provides a hassle-free way of connecting to alumni who share your interests. With advanced search functions and site filters, it’s easy to find mentors who share your major, extracurricular involvements, and even out-of-state status! Having shared interests provides a great springboard for conversation and can lead to some quality connections that last a lifetime, which brings me to my next point…
- VAM is a touch-point for creating lasting professional relationships. No more adding random people on LinkedIn. VAM is a direct link to alumni who are willing and excited to connect with you. While it is up to you whether or not you want to continue chatting after your first conversation, in my experience, many of those who I’ve connected with on VAM still keep in touch with me to this day to share their latest updates and professional goals. Because of these lasting relationships, I have found VAM to be an extremely rewarding platform.
- Thirdly, VAM is a fantastic way to learn more about yourself. I reached out to a lot of folks in the consulting industry during my second year at UVA, and I found that my relationships helped me understand the qualities I was looking for in a company. My mentors also helped me ask questions about what I wanted in a career, which further drove me towards consulting and ultimately led to my securing an offer at PwC for the summer of my third year. I think that the nature of the VAM platform is so very beneficial because developing these relationships forces you to get to know yourself and your goals more intimately.
- Additionally, VAM provides a safe space to do some research. I found that during my time using VAM’s platform, I connected with people who were willing to answer questions that I didn’t even know I had at first. For example, I learned that while a firm may have benefits that include a number of vacation days, it’s important to ask if it is frowned upon by managers to take advantage of those days. Does the firm value providing lots of feedback and hands-on coaching, or letting you take the reins? By chatting with mentors across industries, it became clear that the answer to these and many other questions varies based on the company, so I credit VAM for helping me realize how important it is to do your research before committing to a company.
- Finally, VAM is a great place to practice and develop professional skills. I spoke to nearly 20 different alumni while using VAM’s platform. While this number may seem high, I valued the opportunity to further develop my communication skills and ability to connect with people quickly. Additionally, if the companies you may want to interview for have a specific type of interview format, VAM is the perfect way to practice technical case interviewing or other skills with your mentors. I found VAM to be the most beneficial resource for case interview preparation that I used during my second and third years at UVA.
Overall, I would encourage any and every UVA student to take advantage of the resources that the Virginia Alumni Mentoring platform has to offer. VAM helped me tremendously both professionally and personally, and I am certain it will do the same for you too!
Savannah Page is a third-year student at UVA majoring in Strategic Organizational Development, a major she created through UVA’s Distinguished Major Program. Savannah is passionate about organizational effectiveness. She holds a position on Student Council’s Organization Consultants Committee, and volunteers through Student Entrepreneurs for Economic Development. In addition to being a Teaching Assistant for an Entrepreneurship course in the McIntire School of Commerce, Savannah founded The Inside Scoop, a non-profit matching UVA student mentors with high school students from around the world who are interested in learning more about UVA. Savannah hopes to pursue an MBA following several years in the consulting industry.