Oberlin Uses Switchboard to Empower Its Alumni Network

Ma'ayan Plaut


Ma'ayan Plaut is the Manager of Social Strategy & Projects at Oberlin College, a competitive liberal arts school in Ohio with 2,900 students and 40,000 alumni. She's also a recognized leader in higher education social media strategy. The Oberlin community is creative, playful, warm, and forges strong bonds that last long after Obies graduate.

Ma'ayan makes Oberlin look great every day on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. But she needed a way to activate and engage her community, to make them feel great by helping them succeed.


"Like most social media managers out there, I get a lot of pitches for so many different flavors of social products. So few of the products I look into have a very immediate use for the Oberlin community.

When I saw Switchboard, I knew the platform would fit our Oberlin audience well.

Empty engagement isn’t something our audiences do. Talking about engagement for the Oberlin community means that we have to provide something of value before it would even be considered by our audience. It’s rare to find a grounded tech tool that can aid in solving the problems we deal with as people. Having spent four years surrounded by cornfields, no matter when four years took place, it binds us. 

Switchboard is a digital extension of that idea. Oberlin people will help Oberlin people because there’s a connection already there. All we have to do is provide a space where the connections can begin finding each other.

I’ve been asked a lot of questions about time spent on the platform and if it’s worth it, and the answer is a whole-hearted YES!

As an Oberlin community manager, I’m doing this sort of networking and dot-connecting in a number of isolated places, most of it in one-on-one conversations and in social networks that are bad at both archiving things and making casual chats accessible to larger conversations within communities.

Switchboard is the same dot-connecting and question-answering as before, but is accessible to others within the community, equally useful to visitors and participants both regardless to their relationships to other social media spaces, brings together the knowledge of many resources and experiences of many people in one place, and outwardly demonstrating the innate value of our super excellent Oberlin network."


Since launching in July 2014, the Oberlin Switchboard has seen exceptional engagement, especially among young alumni:

  • The Oberlin Switchboard has over 2,000 users, from the class of 1951 to to the class of 2018.

  • 43% of Oberlin Switchboard users are young alumni—Obies that have graduated within the past 10 years.

  • 29% of the Offers users have posted on the Oberlin Switchboard are for jobs or internships.

  • 48% of the posts about jobs and internships on the Oberlin Switchboard are Offers.

  • There are Oberlin Switchboard users on six continents—all but Antarctica.


Ma'ayan wrote a series of blog posts detailing the decision to choose Switchboard, the results they saw after one week, and two weeks, in addition to building traction.


Simone received over 20 comments on her Ask for advice on going to law school.








Polly '90 generously offered to talk to students and alumni about what's next in their career path.


Alex '15 found housing in DC while pursuing an internship after posting this Ask.