We interviewed staff, students, and alumni at our partner schools to find out how Switchboard helps them bridge the gap between their alumni relations and career services offices. Here's what they told us.
Alice Harra, Associate Dean of Students and Director for Center of Life Beyond Reed at Reed College, describes how Switchboard supports the work of career services by helping students learn to network with alumni:
"When we ask students to network it is a very difficult skill. It’s a hard thing to say. They don’t understand the value of it, and it actually needs some training.
But when they have a specific ask on Switchboard, it really creates a much more meaningful connections, and they don’t even realize that’s networking. So that’s what we see in terms of success: students finding opportunities around the world and locally that they may not have been able to find from other resources."
Devin Bales '15, Alumni and Parent Relations Associate at Willamette University, explains how Switchboard helps students start planning for their future with the help of alumni mentorship and guidance:
You know, part of the reason why I applied for the job I did in the alumni office right after I graduated is because I knew there was so many of my peers graduating without a job, without really a clue what they were doing. And I know there’s going to be a bunch of students who graduate after my own class with the same feeling.
If we can prepare them more by connecting them with alumni, they’ll be able to better know what they want to do, and they’ll be able to have someone to lean on—a mentor type person to make those connections when they’re freshman, when they’re sophomores, so that by the time they’re seniors, and they’re out there looking for jobs, they know people in all kinds of different fields. And it’s all because they’ve had this practice and this opportunity to build relationships.”
Mike Teskey, Director of Alumni Affairs at Reed College, explains how Switchboard helps young alumni find career advice and opportunities while giving older alumni meaningful ways to give back:
“Younger alumni, not surprisingly, want to make sure that they have their needs fulfilled, that is jobs, that’s really, really key.
So they want to go out there knowing that there’s going to be a network of people whom they can turn to for assistance and ideally directly get a job, or at least indirectly through references and referrals with that professional development.
Older alumni people want to be helpful, and the idea that you can be in a position to help build community or help somebody out under the auspices of your college is very meaningful to people.”
Adam DuVander ‘01, Vice-President of Willamette University’s Alumni Board, describes how Switchboard makes the institutional knowledge of career services immediately available to the entire alumni community:
“A lot of the connections I had at that time [when I was a student] were in the brain of the career person at Willamette. So there was someone in charge of career services, and she had been there for a couple of decades, so she was able to say, 'You should absolutely meet with this person from two decades ago.'
Those sorts of connections. It’s very manual, and it’s all passed through her head.
That’s one of the great things about Switchboard: now all that information doesn’t have to be stuck in one person’s head.”