by Jessica Vanderlelie
Student employability is high on the social and academic agenda, yet we continue to let our most valuable allies, walk across the graduation stage and into the distance. Over the past 10 years we have graduated more than 3.2 million students, though less than 20% of our alumni remain engaged. So where are we going wrong and what can we do?
Strengthening connection with alumni, requires us to challenge the notion of having “done our job” at graduation and to create meaningful engagement beyond our requests for time, talent and treasure. Providing a supportive student experience is the first step towards to facilitating meaningful connection, other factors include:
Connecting early: Relationships take time and we must show our students what it means to be an alumnus. By introducing alumni at orientation and providing opportunities to connect across the lifecycle, students will develop the confidence to connect with industry and see the value of staying engaged.
Encouraging discipline networks: Students develop strong connection to their school during their studies and discipline networks allow alumni to maintain contact to the school they care about. Additionally, these networks provide academics with strong industry connections to inform their teaching.
Fostering collaboration: Best practice alumni engagement is about partnership. Academics require professional development opportunities in relationship management, event planning and online networking. Who better to provide this than the experts in alumni teams.
Stop asking: Alumni want to give back but often struggle to see themselves as experienced enough to offer advice. Show alumni the value of remaining connected by offering more than a benefits program and facilitating opportunities to connect with current students.
Alumni are our greatest asset and through authentic partnership we can support student employability, enrich the curriculum, and offer graduates a rewarding opportunity to stay connected.
Professor Jessica Vanderlelie , PVC Student Success
La Trobe University
National Teaching Fellowship 2015
ALTF 2019 Legacy Report here