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Career Services & Mentoring

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Talking Shop: Boring Benefits Can Kill Alumni Engagement
CURRENTS Article For more than 25 years, Gary Toyn has worked with clients to enhance their member/donor acquisition, retention, and engagement. He is the lead researcher of numerous studies related to constituent engagement, including the Voluntary Alumni Engagement in Support of Education survey, which analyzes how institutions attract and engage their alumni. In a recent blog series, Toyn discussed the most beneficial and the "lamest" alumni benefits institutions offer.

The Matchmaker of Silicon Valley
CURRENTS Article Dee Dee Mendoza works in development, but she thinks like an entrepreneur. As managing director for West Coast advancement for Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, she teams with alumni volunteers to host the Dartmouth Entrepreneurs Forum in San Francisco, an annual event for networking, sharing ideas, and learning from speakers such as PayPal Chairman John Donahoe (Class of '82). A recent survey from the Entrepreneurs' Organization, a global network of more than 10,000 business owners, found that 81.6 percent of respondents were interested in starting a new business. With entrepreneurship on the rise, Currents asked Mendoza for her insights on building relationships between entrepreneurs and institutions and what she's learned from working with more than 500 company founders.

Time to Pause
CURRENTS Article Project Pause, developed by two Northwestern University alumni, is a mentoring program that offers seniors a chance to take a break to ponder their future, with the aid of young alumni, before embarking on the chaos of their final year.

Using Alumni Mentoring to Increase Engagement
Article,  BriefCASE Article An alumni mentoring program can increase meaningful engagement for both alumni and students, facilitate career connections and professional development within the community and continue to add value to the student and alumni experience.

When Alumni Don’t Care about Tradition
CURRENTS Article An institution's relationship with its alumni cannot be completely based on nostalgia. While most alumni value their alma mater's history and tradition, even diehard reunion attendees want to talk about more than their freshman year. They want to know that their degree keeps increasing in value, that new facilities are being built, and that the university is rising in national rankings. If your alumni crave a relationship with your college as it is today, not as it was back then, then your programming should reflect that.

In the Case of Law Grads v. Law Firms
CURRENTS Article The Detroit Small Business Legal Network, a nonprofit formed by Wayne State professor Eric C. Williams, will pair new attorneys with the growing number of startups fueling Detroit's economic revival.

Boot Campus
CURRENTS Article Universities often struggle to engage and retain veterans. Like other nontraditional students, veterans are more likely to be older, married, and have full-time jobs and children. They aren't always interested in the traditional university experience, and they may have disabilities that require special accommodations. So how do you reach out to the veterans on your campus? How can you ensure they become as loyal to your institution as they are to their fellow service members? The first step may be to better understand their struggles.

Make Mentoring Work at Independent Schools
Article,  BriefCASE Article Mentoring is a major facet of community life at Upper Canada College. Since 2004, the Toronto K-12 school has built a mentoring program that reaches 750 mentors, mentees and participants each year.

Four Tips to Engage Career-Minded Students
Article,  BriefCASE Article Career services professionals seeking to engage students through social media should keep their information real and make it relevant, according to a recent CASE Twitter Chat.

Becoming Your Alumni’s Career Coach
CURRENTS Article Employed alumni are eager for career advancement advice and are turning to their alma mater, a trusted resource, rather than expensive private career consultants. University career specialists are working with graduates from 15 or 20 years ago just as frequently as they are interacting with recent graduates—and the demand keeps growing.

Elite and Greet
CURRENTS Article Successful professionals find value in building connections and talking about their work with others in their field, which is why we created a networking program at Marquette University called CIRCLES. The program helps our professional alumni do business together—while helping us identify donor prospects.

Goal Keepers
CURRENTS Article A new NCAA resource helps former student athletes score great careers.

Next-Generation Networking
CURRENTS Article A growing number of institutions are adopting Switchboard, an online bulleting board, as an alumni and student benefit. The site was created in 2012 by two Reed College alumni as a volunteer project: a way to connect the Oregon institution's alumni, students, faculty, and parents. Now it's a business. The model is also expanding to communities beyond universities, from women bicyclists to meat sellers.

Alumni Student Mentoring Programs
Good Question Do you have any best practices on alumni student mentoring programs?

Connect Alumni Relations and Career Services
Article,  Community College News Article Community college alumni relations programs can benefit through connections with their institution’s career services office, say two practitioners.

Engagement with an Endpoint
CURRENTS Article Last year the University of Michigan's 30-Minute Mentors program brought 50 graduates back to campus to provide quick career consultations for 164 students. This year, the university added a virtual complement to serve more students and diversify the pool of alumni mentors.

Chain Reactions
CURRENTS Article The U.S. service academies have implemented programs that match current students with alumni who graduated 50 years ago in order to strengthen ties between the academies and their graduates. This article discusses the U.S. Naval Academy's Another Link in the Chain program and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point's 50-Year Affiliation Program.

LinkedIn to the Rescue
CURRENTS Article Alumni relations professionals share tips for using LinkedIn to provide graduates enhanced career services and opportunities to engage with their alma maters.

Be Proactive About Alumni Career Services
Article,  BriefCASE Article Institutions must proactively promote the career services and professional development opportunities that they offer to their alumni, say two alumni career service professionals.

Successfully Marrying Career Services and Alumni Relations
Podcast Hear Jennifer Duncan from the Texas Exes talk about why the demand for alumni career services is increasing and what institutions can do about. Also, learn what to consider before deciding whether to charge fees for these services.

RT @SUAlums: Checked Out @WorkingOrange Yet?
CURRENTS Article Syracuse University's new Working Orange Twitter feed represents a quick, easy way to approach alumni-student career mentoring.

Unlocking the Alumni Network
CURRENTS Article The University of Evansville's UE Connect program offers students and alumni many programs and resources, which students are typically introduced to in their senior year to help them connect with alumni and network as they look for jobs. A symbol of the program is an uncut metal key stamped with the UE logo, a useful memento each graduate receives at commencement as a reminder that his or her UE education and connections have opened the door to the future.

Going for Gold
CURRENTS Article The story profiles eight of the 2012 CASE Circle of Excellence Award grand gold and gold award winners.

Outlook: Stuck in the Middle
CURRENTS Article Higher education and alumni associations hold an important key as more and more baby boomers seek help in making transitions to second careers.

Setting Up an Alumni-Student Mentoring Program
Podcast Hear Monica Spencer from the University of Evansville explain why a mentoring program builds positive connections between alumni, students and their alma mater. Also, listen to how she ensures that both mentors and mentees are getting the most out of their relationships.

Everyday Ideas for Engaging Students
Article,  Community College News Article Alumni relations professionals know that engaging current students with their institution is key to future giving. A number of two-year schools—even those without a full-blown alumni relations program—are creatively using their existing resources and programs to enrich the college-going experience of their current students. Even a one-person advancement shop can learn from their experiences.

The Whole Universe
CURRENTS Article The guiding principle of alumni engagement at the Tuck School of Business at Darmouth College is straightforward: Treat students like alumni and alumni like students, and then sit back and watch the magic happen.

Mentoring Programs Create Successful Students, Engaged Alumni
Article,  BriefCASE Article Alumni-student mentoring programs have the dual benefits of engaging current alumni and turning students into future alumni leaders, according to the managers of alumni mentoring programs at two institutions.

Crème de la Crème
CURRENTS Article In 2011, 268 bronze, silver, gold, and grand gold Circle of Excellence awards went to 171 colleges, universities, independent schools, and nonprofit organizations worldwide. Eight of those grand gold and gold award winners are profiled here.

Slam Dunk
CURRENTS Article Two different goals--providing professional connections for alumni and filling a basketball arena--were met when the Northwestern Alumni Association and the athletics department came together to put on networking nights at home basketball games.

Connecting with Commuters
CURRENTS Article With decreased government funding for higher education the world over, many public two- and four-year commuter institutions are paying more attention to fundraising, which means reconnecting with alumni and building relationships. Since commuter schools are not likely to have much success with traditional alumni programming such as homecomings, class reunions, and tailgate parties, these institutions are finding other ways to engage former students and foster a sense of community.

Back to School
CURRENTS Article California's National University is offering scholarships to its alumni teachers who have been let go by the state so that they can return to college and increase their employment prospects.

Fair with Flair
CURRENTS Article In June, officials at the London College of Communication at the University of the Arts London held the first arts career fair in the U.K. for arts graduates from across the country.

Open-Door Policy
CURRENTS Article When the Great Recession hit, many colleges and universities found themselves with little career assistance to offer older alumni. Necessity is the mother of invention, and many of these alumni associations have increased their offerings for alumni of all ages and found new ways to partner with career services offices.

Network Views
CURRENTS Article The financial crisis of 2008 brought with it a deepening sense of insecurity, and the desire to be connected to a network increased. The MIT Alumni Association wanted to respond to this change in the economic landscape, and in doing so, staff found a new way to partner with alumni and enhance the roles they play.

Advance Work: Giving It Their All
CURRENTS Article During the 100-day period that began on commencement day, the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown's career counselors devoted 100 percent of their time and resources to securing employment or acceptance into graduate school for the recent graduates.

Making Lemonade
CURRENTS Article In the current economic climate, alumni associations are taking hard looks at their budgets and making cuts where necessary. However, the recession is an opportunity for alumni associations to create and build alumni loyalty through networking and career services--when they are needed most.

Corporate and Foundation Programs: Bow Valley College - Silver Award
Best Practice Bow Valley College's first-ever fundraising campaign, "Improving Lives Beyond the Classroom," set out to raise $10 million over five years. With funding in 2005, 2006 and 2007 from Suncor Energy Foundation, the Canadian community college developed a program called Placement Services for Immigrant Professionals. The college also leveraged the Suncor gift to launch a new integrated employment service for students, alumni and clients called BVCWorks.

Alumni Programs: Upper Canada College - Silver Medal
Best Practice Upper Canada College's Common Ties Mentorship Program facilitates relationships between students, alumni and members of the community to help individuals excel educationally, professionally and personally. The program offers three distinct services to the UCC community: an Alumni Career Mentorship Program, an IB University Mentorship Program and Common Ties Events.

Revenue Generating Programs: Georgia Tech Alumni Association - Silver Medal
Best Practice Georgia Tech Alumni Association's Alumni Career Fair and Conference has evolved into a large-scale event attracting employers from all over the country and alumni from more than 30 states. The 23rd annual event included two career sessions, on-site interviews, a breakfast speaker, a lunch speaker and extensive networking opportunities.

New Program Initiatives: Villanova University School of Law - Overall Grand Gold and Gold Medal
Best Practice The primary goal for all Villanova Law Minority Alumni Society programs is to support and promote diversity at Villanova University School of Law and within the legal profession at large. Realizing the need to engage the larger legal community in discussion of the importance of, and ongoing challenge to, achieving meaningful diversity in the profession, the Minority Alumni Society launched its first annual program on the topic in Philadelphia in 2006.

Advance Work: Do-Gooders Unite
CURRENTS Article Colorado College's Public Interest Fellowship Program allows alumni to interact with current students and pass on their nonprofit wisdom.

Opponent or Opportunity?
CURRENTS Article The Caltech Alumni Association has found that the third-party site LinkedIn offers their alumni the best online community for the money. This is a sidebar to the feature "Everyone Into the Pool."

More than Meets the Eye
CURRENTS Article This sidebar--part of the "No Boundaries" article--identifies eight factors to keep in mind when creating an online mentoring program.

No Boundaries
CURRENTS Article Technology permits institutions to provide mentoring programs that are more focused and tailored to the participants’ schedules and needs. And as an added benefit, the program can provide the alumni relations office with one more way to create stronger ties between alumni--current and future--and the institution.

AdvanceWork: A Match Made in Minutes
CURRENTS Article Alumni networking can feel a bit like "catch as catch can," says consultant and Columbia Business School alumna Linda Netherton, who wanted to make networking more efficient and effective for other CBS graduates. Working with fellow alumnus Tom Jaffee--the brains behind 8minuteDating.com and NetworkingMatch.com--Netherton organized a "speed networking" event for her alma mater's Boston Alumni Club. This article discusses the event-planning process and outcome.

Inner Workings
CURRENTS Article As alumni officers search for ways to engage former students, they often overlook opportunities to build partnerships that support the strategic initiatives of the institution, not just the alumni office. Alumni staff members at the University of Iowa medical school have found a way to meet a vital campus need with the Help Our Students Travel program, in which alumni host students who are traveling around the United States for residency interviews. The HOST program is just one example of how alumni offices can work in partnership with campus colleagues. Alumni officers on other campuses can develop similar efforts by examining the goals and needs of their institutions and examining how the entire campus can serve and be served by alumni.

AdvanceWork: Small Talk, Big Benefits
CURRENTS Article New graduates are particularly eager to build professional relationships that might one day lead to job offers. Alumni events sometimes provide unique opportunities to do just that. Debra Fine, author of “The Fine Art of Small Talk,” offers a number of pointers that can help strengthen new alumni’s networking skills.

Let's Make a Deal
CURRENTS Article Alumni might not realize that they can benefit from the technology their alma mater already uses to locate and stay in touch with former students. Help alumni activate their “hidden” alumni network by showing them how to connect with fellow graduates via online directories, campus personnel directories, online class notes, and more. With these high-tech tools, business-savvy former students can forge new ties, rekindle lost campus connections, and open doors to new opportunities. An accompanying sidebar offers advice on networking etiquette.

AdvanceWork: Any Way You Slice It
CURRENTS Article Alumni relations professionals can borrow a page from the corporate playbook by thinking about alumni segmentation in terms of career stage. A corporate alumni relations manager details five segments she uses to plan her alumni programming: The new alum, the experienced alum, the stay-at-home alum, the entrepreneurial alum, and the hiring alum.

Mining for Gold
CURRENTS Article Profiles of 12 CASE Circle of Excellence 2003 winners. Member institution nominees were judged on the creativity of their alumni relations, communications, and development initiatives, including alumni publications, reunions, constituency giving, stewardship, and alumni relations programs. Profiled winners include Brigham Young University/University of Utah; Columbia College Chicago; Georgia Tech Alumni Association; Goucher College; Imperial College London; the Institute for Shipboard Education; Lehigh University Alumni Association; Monroe Community College Foundation; Pennsylvania State University; the University of Chicago; the University of Iowa Alumni Association; and the University of Miami.

Overcoming Dual Loyalities
CURRENTS Article Graduate school alumni officers continue to keep their former students involved with traditional offerings, such as reunions, educational programs, and career programs. In addition, they’re using such community-building techniques as grad-student centers and low- or no-cost alumni association memberships.

AdvanceWork: Go to Work for Alumni
CURRENTS Article The University of Minnesota Alumni Association partners with major area employers to offer social and networking events, academic and research briefings, athletics and arts programs, and continuing education.

Click Here for Career Support
CURRENTS Article Many alumni associations are offering their members online career services that include access to job listings, opportunities to post resumes, and links to career resources. These offerings greatly enhance an association's career services programs and may even produce income. Most associations partner with commercial career-service vendors, which requires little investment and may generate revenue; the article lists four such vendors and provides tips for assessing vendors. Some associations operate their own services; two examples are Augusta State University and UCLA. In either case, it's important to consider online career services just one part of a larger career assistance package.

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