“Hi, I’m a senior at Notre Dame, and I was wondering if you had any advice for someone who wanted to work in your industry?”
That one sentence is powerful. Why? Being a Notre Dame student opens doors and builds connections with one of the strongest alumni networks in the world. Growing up with little understanding of the Notre Dame community, I did not know what I was getting myself into when committing to this University. What I discovered was a family of current students and alumni who go out of their way to help one another. Simply stated, Notre Dame looks out for Notre Dame.
For students on campus, the familial atmosphere is obvious. Your dorm operates more like a brotherhood or sisterhood. Your classrooms are collaborative environments where studying together is more common than being alone. Notre Dame students help each other because there’s an understanding on this campus that we can achieve more together than we can individually.
But what about alumni?
As a business major with the intention of working in advertising, finding a way to break into this industry has been daunting. One of my first steps in learning more about advertising was reaching out to alumni. That involved sending emails to Notre Dame graduates with the introductory sentence you read earlier. I hoped to receive a response or two, but I was shocked. Not only did most of the emails receive a response within days of being sent, but alumni were willing to go above and beyond to help me.
Without me even asking, alumni offered to have phone calls, invited me into their offices, or dropped resumes. In this way, Notre Dame alumni have become a tremendous support network. Most of the alumni have never and will never meet me, but collectively spent hours of their days responding to emails, chatting over the phone, and speaking to me in person. They didn’t know anything more about me than the fact that I was a Notre Dame student, but that was enough for them to sacrifice their time despite having busy professional schedules.
So why do they do this? Obviously I won’t entirely understand until I graduate from the University and have a Notre Dame student reach out to me, but some alumni have told me this: After graduating, being a member of the community doesn’t end. This family extends beyond geographical boundaries, class years, and industries. Recognizing the incredible opportunities that Notre Dame provided you makes you willing (if not enthusiastic about) the opportunity to give back.
As someone who has benefitted from this community, which I now consider a second family, I owe many thanks to those alumni who have embodied this generous Notre Dame spirit. Going forward, I know I and my classmates look forward to becoming resources for Notre Dame’s future students. I truly believe this doesn’t happen everywhere.
As I said earlier, Notre Dame looks out for Notre Dame, but perhaps Lou Holtz puts it best – “For those who know Notre Dame, no explanation is necessary. For those who don’t, no explanation will suffice.”