Sometimes, a personal connection can be just what a student needs to thrive.
Mary Boissel learned that in her 20 years as a teacher in Dublin, Ireland, and it’s what led her to volunteer for her alma mater when she retired. Now, as an alumni buddy for University College Dublin, she helps international students adjust to life in Ireland. In her three years as a volunteer, Mary’s taken students to lunch, chatted about work and studies, invited them to her home—even offering one student a place to stay before a new job started.
When the COVID-19 pandemic sent the city into lockdown, Boissel and her fellow volunteers had to find creative methods to stay virtually connected with their buddies. She and her buddy—a student who loves to write—exchange texts now and check in about her classwork and family.
“The key to all this,” Boissel says, “is goodwill and the capacity to adapt and change.”
Around the globe, advancement teams and the alumni they work with have adapted to the challenges and opportunities of virtual volunteer engagement. These online activities—from mentoring and student career guidance to planning online events to community service—offer institutions new and reimagined ways to engage alumni.
Here’s how advancement professionals have adapted to work with alumni volunteers online—and the key strategies they’ve used to make these virtual opportunities a success.