This spring marks the second year Switchboard has been in operation in our pilot community, Reed College. We’ve undergone significant changes since then. Two years ago, we were just a bunch of ragtag self-starters. Now, we’re…well, we’re still a ragtag bunch of self-starters. But we have officially partnered with Reed, and more members of the community use Switchboard than ever before.
The users of our first, most mature Switchboard often provide us insight into what a successful Switchboard looks like. As more members of a community use and contribute to their Switchboard, “Switchboard” becomes a byword for giving, generosity, and belonging.
According to Switchboard user Nisma, Switchboard is a mainstay of her community. “From what I’ve learned about Switchboard since it launched in 2012, it is THE place to go if you want to give to/ask from other [members of the community]. And over time it has just gotten better,” Nisma says.
Before Nisma’s community used Switchboard, there was no easy way for people to help and ask help from others. The college’s database was clunky, obscure, and often outdated; communications on Twitter disappeared into the interminable torrent of tweets; Facebook was, well, Facebook; and LinkedIn only helped members of the community with a limited number of professional inquiries. Members of Nisma’s community, scattered across these ineffective platforms, couldn’t communicate with one another. Nisma says Switchboard has fixed that. “There was a real gap for an online space that is just dedicated to curating what the needs of [the community] are,” she says. “It seems it’s one of the first places to search when you are looking for something.”
Because Switchboard is well-loved by Nisma’s community, users like her advocate for Switchboard among non-users. “I would definitely recommend Switchboard to Reed friends, if they don’t know of it already.” Even in a community with a high rate of turnover, like Nisma’s or any college community, Switchboard wins the hearts of its users so much that it transforms from platform into tradition.
“Which is why I’ve posted an internship/job posting a few days ago,” Nisma says. Since she began using Switchboard two years ago, Nisma has gone from asking for help to offering it, and, in so doing, has come to embody the generosity at Switchboard’s core. “I want Reedies to apply and I’d love to help them when they do.”
Switchboard’s earliest incarnation launched in March 2012. Two years later, we’re still a ragtag bunch of self-starters, but now we have users like Nisma to remind us who we are. Our users are our community, and that community is growing by the day. If you’re reading this, Switchboarders, thank you.