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How do I reach out?

We know that reaching out to a new contact can be intimidating, but the Rice University OWL Career Mentor Network is a group in which all members are rooting for you! Members who join the OWL Career Mentor Network do so because they want to help Rice students and alums. These mentors want to share their experiences, provide career advice, share insight into their job or industry, and encourage their fellow Rice Owls. 

So how do you get started?

Discussion Board

In the OWL Career Mentor Network, the landing page is the Discussion board. On this page, you are welcome to post a question or topic of conversation for feedback from the entire group. Discussion topics go out in the daily or weekly digest emails to all members who can then comment and reply to the question. 

Don't be nervous about posting a discussion to the entire group. Remember, the 2,222+ members of this group have joined because they want to help you!

We also encourage you to comment on discussions and share your experience and advice with other members. You can also continue a discussion conversation by asking a follow up question. If at any time a member's reply strikes your interest and you would like to hear more from them, you may hover over their comment and select "reply privately" to start a conversation with them.

If there is a discussion taking place within the group that you would like to follow, hover over the discussion post and click on the "Follow" button next to the star.  You will then receive a notification whenever there is an additional comment on this post. Tip: You can update your overall preferences for when you wish to receive a notification by hovering over your image at the top right of the page, selecting "Privacy & Settings," going to the "Communications" tab, and selecting "Set push notification settings."

Search Members of the OWL Career Mentor Network

To search for group members to connect with - whether it be to expand your network, ask about living in a certain area, or request an informational interview - click on the text at the top right of the page that lists the number of members in the group. You will be taken to a page with a keyword search engine that allows you to search all group members. To conduct an effective search, try a number of different key words and view the profiles of the member results. 

Keep in mind, the information you can view on someone's profile will be limited based on their privacy settings. Nevertheless, we encourage you to view the profiles generated by your search and connect with a contact who you think would be a good resource. The more connections you make in the group, the more full profiles you will be able to see. If you are not a 1st or 2nd degree connection with a member, you may be viewing a more limited version of their profile due to privacy settings. The information can still provide you with a great start, and a more in-depth search (i.e. the company website, Rice website, Google, etc.) can give you enough information to decide whether or note the individual would be a good connection.


When you find another group member whose profile interests you or you feel would be a good connection, look below their name in the Members section of the group for the "Connect" and "Send Message" options. 

Send Message - Your message will go directly to the individual via LinkedIn. Messages sent in this way are not limited in length, but do not invite the person to become a connection (something you will eventually want to do as well). Here are some tips for composing your introductory LinkedIn message:

1.) Subject Line: Be specific to help the mentor understand who you are and why you are reaching out. Some examples may be "Rice Student Seeking Insight into Consulting Industry," "Rice Student Requests Informational Interview." A blank subject line or one that just reads "Hello" will likely be ignored or not taken seriously.

2.) Introduce Yourself: In you first paragraph take a sentence or two to tell mentor who you are, how you found them, and why you decided to reach out. 
Example #1: Dear _______, My name is John Smith and I am currently an Economics major entering my junior year at Rice. I am very interested in working in the consulting industry, and am particularly interested in learning more about (contact's company). I found your profile in the OWL Career Mentor Network and see that you are working for (company name) and did an internship during your time at Rice."
Example #2: Dear _____, My name is Amanda Brown and I am currently a sophomore at Rice. I found your profile in the OWL Career Mentor Network and see that you were an English major at Rice. I would love to speak with you about your career path as I am looking in to the (field/industry).
3.) Goals: Specify the reason why you are reaching out to this person. What is your goal and what are you hoping to get out of this connection and conversation? When making a request, be mindful of the individual's time.


Example #1: I was wondering if you would be willing to take a few minutes to answer some questions I had about the consulting industry. I have done some research and tried to learn about a consultant's role, but would appreciate the opportunity to learn more about the role you play in the company and what a typical day is like in your line of work.
Example #2: I found your profile in the OWL Mentor Network and see that you are currently working in the New York area. I have just graduated from Rice and accepted a job with a marketing firm in the city. I am hoping to connect with Rice alums in the area and was wondering if you would be willing to answer a few questions I have about transitioning from Houston to the East Coast.
4.) Contact Information: Include your contact information and specify how this person might reach out to you if they are willing to connect. You can ask them to reply to the LinkedIn message, but we also recommend you give this contact your email address so they can reach you more directly. If you are comfortable, you may include your phone number for the mentor to call you at their convenience, but most likely your first communication back and forth will be via LinkedIn messaging or email.
5.) Thank You: Thank the mentor for their time and help. 

Connect - Selecting this option will pull up a page that prompts you to select how you know this LinkedIn member. You can select Group, Classmate, or I don't know this person. Then take a few minutes to write a brief message introducing yourself. Do not send a request to connect using the generic "I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn" message. This will not help the contact understand who you are or why you wish to connect.


  • Spare the jargon. When reaching out to a career mentor, keep the message professional. Save the emoticons and jargon for messaging friends on Facebook, and err on the side of formality when messaging a new contact on LinkedIn.
  • Check your spelling!
  • Don't forget to say please and thank you.
  • Don't ask for a job. The Career Mentor you may be contacting might not even make hiring decisions at their company. While networking and learning from an OWL Career Mentor may lead to connections and job opportunities, this group's purpose is not to solicit a job from the volunteers. The group is a resource for networking and learning!
  • You always have Rice in common, which means you always have a topic of discussion.
  • Don't be afraid to reach out! Remember, the 2,222+ members of this group have self-selected to join the group because they want to help students with their career path.

Say Thank You

Please take the time to comment on a discussion post that was helpful to you to say thank you to the OWL Career Mentor. Their advice and guidance is very valuable, and we want them to know that. Even liking a post is a way of acknowledging that it was helpful to you. Please say thank you to our volunteer Career Mentors!