Get Expert Advice over Virtual Coffee with an Alum

"It was amazing to connect with Dr. Riley through the UCSF 'Coffee with an Alum' program. Her incredible advice to set expectations at the very beginning of the rotation and be flexible in figuring out how to best fit into the workflow has been essential on APPEs thus far and I have also incorporated her wise words to seek a variety of experiences as often as possible within each rotation to help discover where my true interests lie."

Ellen Berkley, Class of 2021 PharmD Candidate

UCSF School of Pharmacy

What is the Virtual Coffee with an Alum program?

The Office of Career and Professional Development (OCPD) and Alumni Relations have teamed up to help UCSF students and postdocs connect with alumni who want to share their valuable insight and experience.

Connecting with alumni has many benefits. It can help you achieve your career goals, broaden your network, and obtain support and mentorship as you navigate your time here at UCSF and beyond. 

By participating in this program, we are offering one more benefit: we are giving Amazon gift cards to the first 15 students or postdocs who meet up with an alum using UCSF Connect, an online networking platform exclusively for the UCSF community.

The first 5 students or postdocs who participate in the program will get a $25 gift card and the remaining 10 will receive a $10 gift card!

I'm intrigued. Tell me more.

UCSF alumni have valuable insight both about where you are right now, and where you want to go. You can meet with an alum who is on a career path of interest to you, get advice about making the most of your time at UCSF, or have them tell you how they got to where they are today. These meetings are also known as informational interviews, which is a conversation with someone else to help you get closer to your professional/academic goals. 

This sounds great! I'd like to chat with an alum. How does it work?

  • Join UCSF Connect.
  • Find an alum through the UCSF Connect directory.
  • Request to meet up (and include a link to Virtual Coffee with an Alum Information for Alums in your request) through clicking on the "Message" button on the alum's UCSF Connect profile.
  • After your meeting, post the alum's name and one piece of advice that they gave you to the UCSF Connect newsfeed. Before posting their name/advice, make sure you receive the alum's permission to do so!

​In return, we will give you a gift card. To encourage other students and postdocs to meet with alums, OCPD and Alumni Relations will then share your post (e.g., social media channels, websites, email correspondence) along with your name and the name of the alum!

I have never used UCSF Connect. Any pointers?

Below are short videos on how to use the platform:  

What is the best way to approach alums? 

We developed a four-part video series to get you ready for successful networking. You can view all four parts here (they will play one after the other), or access each video separately:

  1. The Purpose of Networking and Creating Your Goals
  2. Identify Where to Network and How to Initiate a Networking Request
  3. Identify the Types of Questions to Ask During a Networking Interaction
  4. Summarize How to Follow Up After a Networking Interaction

Finally, for support around the networking process, you can make an appointment with the Office of Career and Professional Development.

Here is sample text for approaching an alum:

Dear Dr. Hughes:

My name is Jane Smith and I am a first-year student pharmacist at UCSF School of Pharmacy. I am currently exploring career paths in industry, and I am particularly interested in medical communications. I was very excited to find you on UCSF Connect. Would you be willing to meet with me for 30 minutes in the next two weeks to discuss your transition into this area? I would value the opportunity to learn about your current role, and your career path since completing your training at UCSF.

I am also participating in UCSF Connect’s Virtual Coffee with an Alum program, an opportunity to meet with an alum based on my professional interests and share this experience on social media. More information can be found here. Please let me know if you are interested. Also, I would be happy to discuss the Virtual Coffee with an Alum program in more detail if we connect. Thank you for considering!

Warm regards,

Jane Smith


What are some ways to virtually meet with an alum?

There are so many ways to meet including phone, Skype, Google Hangout, and Zoom!

Information for Alums

The Office of Career and Professional Development (OCPD) and Alumni Relations have teamed up to help UCSF students and postdocs connect with alumni who are willing to share their valuable insight and experience in a new program called Virtual Coffee with an Alum. We're giving gift cards to the first 25 students or postdocs who meet up with an alum, and share their experience on the UCSF Connect platform. 

Here are the details:

  • Join UCSF Connect, an online networking platform exclusively for the UCSF community. It is free and takes two minutes to sign up!
  • Students and postdocs will be using UCSF Connect to find and approach you for an informational interview, which is just another name for a conversation with a professional who can help them pursue their academic or professional goals. Questions will center around your experiences, advice, and insight.
  • Check UCSF Connect and your email associated with your UCSF Connect account regularly so you don’t miss any of these requests.
  • In order for students and postdocs to receive a gift card, they must ask your permission to post your name along with one piece of advice that you offered to them to the UCSF Connect newsfeed. To encourage other students and postdocs to meet with alums, OCPD and Alumni Relations will then share their post (e.g., social media channels, websites, email correspondence), along with your name and the name of the student/postdoc! If you do not feel comfortable having your name/advice posted on the UCSF Connect newsfeed and shared by us, that’s okay! Just let them know.

Questions? Contact Sara Ayazi, OCPD Program Manager/Career Counselor at [email protected].