What Alumni Relations and Career Services Have Accomplished Together at the University of Rochester

What Alumni Relations and Career Services Have Accomplished Together at the University of Rochester

What does it actually look like?

What do we get out of it?

How do we make it happen?

These are the three central questions facing any attempt to break down walls between offices.

The barrier between alumni relations and career services is one of the most heavily scrutinized, but many alumni relations and career services teams still struggle to answer those three questions when considering a partnership or merger. Some institutions, though, have managed to answer them.

Michelle Marks-Hook, Volunteer Program Director at the University of Rochester’s Gwen M. Green Center, recently presented on the topic at the CASE District 2 Conference. I discussed her presentation with her beforehand to learn more about how the alumni relations and career services teams at the U of R are working together, what they get out of it, and how they made it happen. Here’s our conversation, lightly edited for clarity and continuity.

How Pepperdine's Graziadio Business School is Improving Alumni Relations by Breaking Down Silos

How Pepperdine's Graziadio Business School is Improving Alumni Relations by Breaking Down Silos

Silos. Silos! We all know they stand in the way of our teams being more innovative, collaborative, and effective.

But what are silos, really? They are walls that are there because we put them there. We put them there every day with our lack of openness, our protecting scarce resources, and our intense focus on our own goals without consideration of others’.

Silos aren’t structures—they are systems, systems that we create and sustain ourselves. And it takes systems to dismantle them.

Robin Doty is Senior Director of Alumni and External Engagement at Pepperdine’s Graziadio Business School. She and members of her team recently presented on this topic at the CASE D7 Conference in California. I spoke with Robin and asked her to share some insights from her presentation, “Disrupting the Alumni Engagement Ecosystem to Be More Innovative, Collaborative, and Effective.”

How the University of Maryland Engages Previously Unengaged Alumni with Online Book Clubs

How the University of Maryland Engages Previously Unengaged Alumni with Online Book Clubs

If you could meaningfully engage hundreds of alumni who had never interacted with your institution before with a program that didn’t require staff time to run, you would, right?

We probably all would. But that might not stop us from being skeptical if we were told that the program that could do that is a virtual book club.

But the proof of the book club is in the reading. Jeff Williams, Associate Executive Director of Engagement and Outreach at the University of Maryland Alumni Association, and his team launched four book clubs in July and reached nearly 2,000 alumni in 46 states almost right away. Over a quarter of those had never engaged with the alumni association before. And they did it all with minimal staff time by partnering with an outside company to handle the program.

Learning by Listening: Reflections on ListenUp EDU

Learning by Listening: Reflections on ListenUp EDU

Last month, over 75 leaders from institutions around the country gathered in Chicago for ListenUp EDU, our first conference focused on improving how we listen to students and alumni and improve service and success, co-hosted with our friends at Campus Sonar (who are pioneering the the insights gleaned from social listening to inform institutions’ strategy). The gathering exceeded our expectations. We hope to live up to the assessment of Matt Duncan, Academic Digital Engagement Strategist at the University of Colorado Boulder, who called it “The future of higher ed conferences.” We’re hosting the next ListenUp in Portland, OR April 17-18 with Campus Sonar.

Career services needs to upskill. Here’s how.

Career services needs to upskill. Here’s how.

With so much change ahead, career centers need to rethink outdated career training models. Career centers’ primary focus should not be to prepare students for linear careers anymore. Instead, they should prepare students for a lifetime of career changes. Navigating these ambiguous career paths requires students and alumni to embrace upskilling and lifelong learning. This same advice applies to careers services staff too.