National principles for engaging alumni to support student employability
1: Build your community
A strong alumni network hinges on a deep sense of community.
- Welcome to the family: Discuss that students belong to the School ‘family’ and
university ‘community’ from day one on campus.
- Communicate your intention and commitment to establish and maintain a lifelong relationship.
- Share stories of past graduates and their achievements/challenges with students.
- Celebrate the success of your alumni, by regularly profiling their achievements and through an official university alumni awards program.
- Model what it means to be an alumnus by engaging graduates across the student lifecycle from orientation to graduation.
- Communicate the value of connection to the network by clearly answering the question ‘what’s in it for me?’.
- Understand that alumni engagement must be earned: Invite alumni to events where you DON’T ASK ANYTHING of them.
2: Provide a supportive experience
Alumni have an emotional attachment to the university based on their relationships as a student
- Let students contribute: Provide opportunities for students to feedback about their experience and contribute to the operations of the school.
- Have fun: Provide co-curricular activities for students that facilitate connection with academic staff, peers and alumni.
- Show you care by encouraging staff to be friendly and supportive of students.
- Help students connect to their peers and alumni through formal and informal networks that leverage the power of technology.
- Celebrate the diversity of backgrounds and experiences of students and draw upon alumni to normalise the challenges of study for all.
- Provide tangible benefits of engagement that are supportive to alumni and their needs.
- Make engagement authentic by coordinating a diverse program activities tailored for discipline context.
3: Explicitly address employability
Alumni are industry that deeply care about the university
- Talk to students about their career goals and encourage reflection upon these goals across the degree.
- Develop authentic curriculum and experiences for students by drawing upon alumni to inform learning design.
- Support professions awareness: Draw upon experienced alumni to showcase career options, the realities of the professions and a pathway to success.
- Be open about the challenges: Invite new graduates to share their experiences of transitioning to work.
- Support placement/work experience with alumni partners.
- Facilitate mentoring by providing opportunities for student-to-alumni and alumni-toalumni partnerships.
- Continue to care by acknowledging OUR role in supporting graduates as their careers unfold, through times of success and transition.
4: Engage early and coordinate the approach
If we wait until graduation, its already too late
- Connect students early to your school/university alumni group so they understand the full benefit of continuing involvement.
- Make it easy to stay connected by developing discipline specific networks and encouraging all students to join whilst studying.
- Maintain a comprehensive database of alumni and their details by collaborating with the alumni office and avoiding ‘secret’ lists.
- Draw upon the expertise of the alumni office to support schools/disciplines with the coordination of events and communication strategy.
- Track engagement between alumni and all areas of the university to ensure that you are not overburdening active alumni.
- Take an active role in maintaining connection by encouraging staff to remain connected with graduates and provide opportunities to bring alumni together.
- Map alumni relationships with staff to ensure those staff with the strongest connection are in the loop if approaching the alumni for a request.
5: Clear institutional strategy and support
We are all on the same team
- Position alumni engagement as a key area of strategic priority for the institution and communicate this with staff, students and alumni.
- Communicate clearly the engagement philosophy and university intentions regarding fundraising to academic staff at all levels of the institution.
- Provide resources to faculties and schools supporting to encourage and support authentic engagement.
- Develop a clear organisational structure that encourages collaboration between academics, schools and the alumni office.
- Identify champions to lead alumni engagement within schools/disciplines to provide a consistent point of contact to the alumni office.
- Provision workload and reward achievement for staff supporting alumni engagement activities.
- Make internal processes clear to academic staff when engaging with the Alumni Office.
- Support staff training and development in the fundamentals of relationship management, social media and online networking.