Why Occidental College Uses Switchboard to Connect Students and Alumni

About Occidental College

  • Small liberal arts college
  • Located in Los Angeles, CA
  • 2,100 students
  • 20,000 alumni

We're excited to announce our partnership with Occidental College! We've been working with Oxy for several months now but haven't had the chance to share.

Occidental's tight-knit, purpose-driven community is the perfect fit for Switchboard. The Occidental Switchboard's 700 users are proof enough of that already. We couldn't be more proud to be serving such an inspiring group of people.

Courtney Stricklin is Occidental's Assistant Director for Employer Relations at the Hameetman Career Center, and Culley Johnson is Occidental's Assistant Director for Engagement Communications. We asked them to tell us a little bit about why they're excited to see the Occidental Switchboard continue to grow.

What excites you most about what Switchboard can do for Occidental and its community?

Courtney Stricklin, Assistant Director for Employer Relations at Occidental.

Courtney Stricklin, Assistant Director for Employer Relations at Occidental.

Stricklin: Switchboard has provided an entirely new way for Career Services to engage with alumni. As I'm sure is the case at many institutions, there are a lot of grads who are eager to provide career advice to students and to stay in touch with the career center, however, rarely is a career center equipped to offer speaking or mentorship opportunities each time we hear from an excited alum.

Switchboard has allowed us to engage this good will quickly, and effectively, without having to increase the work-load on staff or try to squeeze any other programming into an already impacted schedule of events. Additionally, Switchboard is helping us measure this engagement, by tracking comments and recording stories.

Johnson: For a small liberal arts institution, Oxy has had a distinct problem maintaining a close-knit community post-graduation. Alumni often express disenchantment, disappointment and a sense of alienation from the College. Already, through the early adoption phase of our experience with Switchboard, we are seeing what a difference the platform is making in that general perception. Alumni come to Switchboard and see an invested, warm and nourishing community manifesting itself. Even if people are slow to become active on Switchboard, it is already changing perceptions.

Out of all your other options, why did you choose to partner with Switchboard?

Stricklin: The team at Switchboard really is incredible and continues to be responsive to our questions and any issues with the growth of our site. Combined with the easy to use interface and excellent platform design, we've had only positive reviews from students, alumni, staff and parents, I'm so grateful we made this choice!

Johnson: The number one reason is the pure simplicity of the platform. Every other platform we researched was either tied up with many other features or bells and whistles that we didn't need/want, or were part of larger all-encompassing platforms. Number two is the great feedback from peer institutions already using Switchboard. 

What problems does Switchboard help you solve that you couldn’t solve before?

Stricklin: Career Services often hears about jobs for alumni, as opposed to graduating students, and yet alumni don't always check our jobsite to find positions so many great positions do not receive applications. With Switchboard, we can now post jobs directly to the alumni community in a platform that grads are excited to use. This can increase traffic to our jobsite as well as increase awareness of great positions.

Johnson: One of the most common complaints we hear from alumni is that they really want to be able to give back to the college with something other than money—to impact students through mentoring and networking. But those opportunities were almost nonexistent. Now the opportunity to network and mentor students is front and center to the alumni experience. And it couldn't be easier to actualize.