A New Year depicts new beginnings. It is also a time to value our existing relationships. Both are reasons why Alumni Associations look at this period to be a perfect time to bring people together.
Let’s take a look at Alumni Associations around the world and see what they indulge in:
University of North Carolina has already planned for New Year 2015. Lifelong members of this association are invited to join other members on a 6 day self paid trip to the city of London from 28th Dec, 2014 to 2nd Jan, 2015. What better way to get people together and make new memories than planning a trip to a new city.
Alumni New Year Concert and Award Ceremonies:
China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) planned a grand and pompous event to bring it’s alumni together, in celebration of it’s 20th year. The Alumni New Year’s Concert and Alumni of the Year Awards Ceremony sponsored by a CEIBS alumni and his company, started off with a small note on the current happenings in the institution. What then followed next was the presentation of The 2013 Alumni of the Year Awards. The evening ended off with a concert performed by Shanghai’s renowned orchestra conductor.
Introducing New Courses:
Not everything that you do for your alumni has to be extravagant. We loved what Milton Keynes College did for it’s alumni this year. As a part of it’s New Year-New You series it gave its alumni a chance to improve their knowledge base by introducing new and exciting courses like Art & Design, Music, Youth Work and Fitness Instructing. Showing your alumni that you are actively interested in them, is what makes your alumni association appealing.
Alumni Mentorship Programs, 2014:
Sauder School Business (Sauder Business Clubs-Vancouver and Calgary) and the Hari B. Varshney Business Career Centre have collaborated to bring the about the 2014, Alumni Mentorship Program (AMP) and are currently inviting mentor applications.
The goal of this newly-enhanced program is to provide an opportunity for experienced alumni to positively impact the lives and careers of alumni mentees, making it a unique alumni-to-alumni program. AMP participants will have access to career development resources and webinars provided by Alumni Career Services.
The list above is definitely not exhaustive. University of Minnesota uploaded a simple New Year Rouser video in 2013.
This New Year comes as a unique celebration to us as we’ve launched What’s New Alma Connect?.
Our first in this series is a surprise across seven renowned colleges in India and will be running on our facebook page and across the colleges pages. Come check it out!
2014 looks pretty happening to us from over here.
Posted by Aashna Kaur
The students who focus on networking starting freshman year are at a great advantage because everyone knows that relationships lead to jobs -Dan Schawbel, founder of Millennial Branding
With the recession on, you could ask us why one should start networking that early and we’d simplify by coming up with the following mantras:
1) Sow your seeds before you Harvest:
Harvesting isn’t only for the farmers, sow the seeds to your network today. Networks evolve over time and that is precisely the reason why experts recommend that one should start early. You could not be looking for a job or internship at the moment, but you could ensure that you are able to find the right kind of placement when the time comes. Talking to professors, keeping in touch with alumni and building a network off campus, count.
2) Referrals and Recommendations lead to Hiring:
Ernst & Young, the accounting firm, has set ambitious internal goals to increase the proportion of hirings that come from internal referrals to 50%. Whether you are looking at further studies or landing a job, strong referrals play an important role. Asking professors who have previously worked with organizations or colleges and touching base with alumni who are working at organizations, could get you good recommendations.
3)Networks make getting Advice and up-to-date Information easier:
When you play up the student card, there is a higher chance of availing advice. The person you approach is put at ease because you are just looking for advice and no concrete measure. Be it professional, career or personal advice there’s probably someone who has been there,done that before you. Availing information works the same way. Check out more on Informations Interviews as defined by John Hopkins University. With industries and related technologies constantly changing, there has never been a greater need to stay updated.
4) Showcase your work:
People are now showcasing their work online. Current and past work can easily be uploaded for others to view or comment on. Be it a project or report that you have worked on, or a freelance summer job, showcasing your work can give you valuable feedback and lead on to more projects. Turn your work into awesome presentations and infographics(try Visual.ly and Infogr.am) or publish a small ebook if your work is more data related. Mashable published an excellent article on 20 tools to showcase a portfolio. Just don’t forget to share the portfolio links on your networking platform.
5) Networking is Fun!
Most people assume that networking’s boring. That’s certainly not true in today’s scenario. Gone are the days when the only option was to attend as many events as possible and hand out business cards. With the world shrinking and interactive platforms coming out to play, networking can be seen as a couple of notches above the social interaction that happens in college. It is definitely a little more formal and perhaps targeted, but the right platform ensures that it is as convenient and fun as meeting people in real life.
We here at Alma Connect believe in the value of networking and making the right connections. Hence we are on our toes to bring to you the best Alumni Connection platform.
If you are planning to start creating an alumni network, get in touch with us on Facebook or Twitter. Or drop us your email on our Website,. We’d love to help.
To debunk common myths about alumni relations, check out our previous post.
Posted by Aashna Kaur
We’ve taken a cue from experienced alumni professionals, and our own experience of over two years to come up with a list of common assumptions that stakeholders (students, alumni, institutions and faculties) have about what alumni relations holds:
1) Alumni Relation is a one way relationship:
Every relationship is a two way street. From an institution’s point of view, alumni relation focuses on it’s most passionate and permanent stakeholders. From an alumni’s point of view, the relation includes acknowledgement from the institution, involvement and professional and career development support.
2) Everyone understands the role of alumni:
It is important for institutions to explicitly state time and again what they expect from an alumni relationship. The Department of Psychology at University of Illinois, for example breaks down it’s term goals and distributes information over it’s portal. This encourages alumni and directs them on what to do. (Check out it’s goals on increasing the mentoring and internship for the Department ).
3) It is the responsibility of the alumni to be involved and give back:
Not at all. The alumni might engage once because of their loyalty to the institution but to retain alumni, giving back to the alumni is important. Universities with strong alumni networks roll keeping in mind the needs of their alumni. Brown Alumni Association has for example initiated Women’s Launch Pad to pair it’s senior class women with alumni mentors during their year.
4) We don’t need Alumni:
Cutting off stakeholders always leads to reduced performance. Rice University for example asks it’s alumni to volunteer during the admission processes. MIT ignored naysayers and went ahead with edX (it’s MOOC platform) because it had faith in the 860 edX alumni-driven communities. Alumni are always the most passionate supporters and therefore great initiators.
5) Alumni Relations Cell is separate from other administrative units of the institution:
Alumni Relation cells usually cannot function separate to the other institutional units. When giving out career, library and mentoring advantages, it would be best to partner with other departments like admissions, placement cells, career counsellors and the library department. Synergy is good. INSEAD, does a good job by tries to keep it’s alumni and top recruiters in touch.
6) We wait till Undergraduates pass out to involve them:
Columbia College holds Student-Alumni activities to encourage discussions and participation.
By setting an example to it’s students, it ensures that they go on to be better alumni and have stronger links with the institution. The perfect cycle.
7) Alumni dinners and reunions are the only activities Alumni like being called to:
We cannot stress on this enough: Constant engagement makes effective alumni. Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences invites it’s alumni to come participate in events, mentor and speak to the students. Try doing the same. Nobody likes to have their doors knocked on only a couple of times in 10 years.
8) Garnering donations is the sole purpose of Alumni Relations:
It is understood that donations form a major objective due to dwindling funds and cutting off of budgets. We have already seen how alumni relations supports career and professional advancement, mentoring, placements and volunteering at the institution. One could ensure that Donations is one of the objective rather than being the only objective.
What do you think? Drop us a comment here or on our Facebook and Twitter to let us know if we have missed something in this post.
If you are planning to go on and start your own alumni cell, let us know, we’d love to help out.
Reference: Alumni Futures
Posted by Aashna Kaur
Brand Strategy Manager
India and Alumni Relations
It’s ironic that alumni-relations is not highly considered in a country hosting the third largest network of higher education institutions, the network being third only to US and China. The West seems to take this domain very seriously (see article on including alumni in institutional governance; alumni are considered to be an institution’s most passionate and permanent stakeholders). While we are still struggling to form basic alumni cells, alumni relations have started to incorporate different dimensions in universities.
What are Alumni Relations, Really
Alumni relations, from an academic institution’s perspective, refers to relationship-building between the alumni, institution and current students. Some universities also include their faculties and prospective students in the process. Many proactive companies have adopted the same system towards their former employees (see KPMG and Bain & Company).
These powerful relationships are built using strategies that ensure a link between parties, with activities not limited to alumni dinners and reunions. Yale University for example provides it’s 130,000 worldwide alumni complete access to JSTOR (short for “journal storage”), a digital archive of over 1,000 academic journals and one million primary sources. Kaplan University featured it’s alumni in a survey, pointing out necessary traits to help current students get ahead, identify industries that offer the greatest opportunity, and gain from personal advice for guidance on building their careers.
What We are doing to change the scenario around us
At Alma Connect, we work with institutions to help build a strong alumni community by creating a social-professional ecosystem among alumni, faculty, students and management of an institution. We understand that the alumni relationship mutually benefits all parties. Since this space is almost untouched and user awareness seems to be on the low, the next few blog posts aim at answering questions and delving into strategies to help understand how an effective alumni association could be built. Do drop us a line at email@example.com to let us know how we could help you. We’d love to talk.
1. Ownership, Ownership & Ownership
We believe in:
A. Let the expert do his job: We believe that instead of doing everything on your own, find an expert and let him do it.
Even when we had no funding while we were starting up, we hired top-notch freelancers each for Wireframes, visual design, frontend and backend.
- B. Each team member is equally smart, if not smarter:
We respect each other and their opinions. This makes it much more easier to agree to even those points which we might be skeptical otherwise.
- C. Don’t be scared of experimenting: It is completely okie, if someone took a call and it came out that he/she was wrong, happens all the time. It is important that the same person is open enough to understand what went wrong, accept it and rectify it
Our belief lays down the founding stone for ownership inside the team. We are a proud Indian company, aspiring to build a product (not services) that will be accepted across the globe. And realize that until each person is responsible for what he/she is doing, end-to-end, we will not be able to succeed.
Ownership is one of the words that you will keep hearing again and again while working with us. You will have all the freedom to take calls but will also be responsible for what you are doing.
A. We work on Latest technologies:
- BackEnd is built on Ruby with Rails framework: Fastest technology to build powerful and scalable systems
- MongoDb for Database: Most Agile, scalable and powerful db.
- Completely fluid and responsive html/css: One code but different UI for 1140px desktop screens to 400px mobile touch screens
B. We adopt trends that can impress even the Silicon Valley, leave behind Indian standards. And we are not afraid in trying out things and failing.
We have not used a single image for icons in our website, all our icons have been converted into a custom AlmaConnect font suite which works like any other regular font like arial, helvetica, etc.
For example: Some of our icons and their corresponding keys:
Following is our story of raising angel funding.
To give you a brief, in an angel round a set of investors (mostly individuals) come together, agree to the same terms and invest money, which is a sum total of their individual amounts.
Jan’11: AlmaConnect had received incubation & a seed funding of $50,000 from CEID, DAIICT. The first tranche (installment) from this funding was enough for us to go on working till July’11 without loosing pace.
28th Jan’11: We presented at the Demo Day of iAccelerator (was among the top 10 startups chosen by CIIE, IIMA for their iAccelerator program 11-12). It was a completely jam packed lecture hall of IIMA with investors from across the country.
We have been working on the #NewAlmaConnect for quite sometime and we actually got serious on 11 Aug, 2012, when the whole team sat together for a workshop to brainstorm. Notes from that meeting led to some early low-fidelity wire-frames.
In about a months’ time we had iterated these early wireframes atleast 6 times. On each iteration, we all thrashed the wire-frame and kept only the UI elements that we knew were scalable.
Starting from the first wireframe till the seventh iteration for the “On the Network” page.
Version 1: A three column layout, with inspiration from email clients
- Focal Length
Two years since inception, from 2 people team to 8 people team. Journey of many ups and down, but a journey well enjoyed. With the launch of #NewAlmaConnect just a few days away, no time to sit back and celebrate now. The team is focused on pushing hard for the delivery and to achieve many more milestones like these.
Heres thanking all our well wishers, investors, clients, collaborators, advisors and most importantly our users. A BIG THANK YOU! You make us strong!
The intensity of the desire of an alumni to connect with his AlmaMater & the community is dependent on a number of factors. We have organized them amongst two sets.
1. The first set is more to do about the nature of the alumni when he/she was a student during college time.
Based on the students’ interaction and behavior in college we categorize them as:
DOERS: People who are the super active and social during college, who come up running ME ME ME whenever their is an opportunity to participate, coordinate or volunteer. The real DOers.
ACTIVE AUDIENCE: People who don’t really participate in all activities but want to know each and everything that is happening. They are present & aware of all activities in a passive manner.
FOLLOWERS: People who did things mostly because their friends were doing. They were not really bothered about an event until their friend (s) got interested.
LONERS: These guys are least bothered about what is happening around. They are happy amongst themselves and in their lives and probably a small group of friends.
HATERS: For varied reasons there are always a set of people who hate their college and have to criticize about everything thats happening.
People belonging to these categories have a different affinity & desire to connect back to the institute. Our research looks like this: