The office of alumni relations officially launched their Career and Mentorship Network in Jan. of 2018 but didn’t begin promoting the platform with students until the beginning of this academic year.
The Career and Mentorship Network is a website where students and alumni can connect. The alumni facilitates career-related conversations with students, mentor them and promote networking within their field.
“The goal of this program is to tap into the vast resource that is our alumni network, giving alumni the opportunity to give back in real time in an authentic way while simultaneously providing a valuable resource for our current students,” said Shana Circe, the director of alumni relations.
Circe started exploring the possibility of a platform like this about 18 months ago with the career resource center. They worked with the company “Firsthand” to build the platform and get it customized to their needs.
Since the official launch, 150 alumni advisors were recruited and they are shooting for 200 by the end of this academic year. They aspire to double the amount of alumni advisors by the end of next year.
The alumni advisors work in a wide range of industries including Google, UBS Financial Services, Nickelodeon, Vox Media, and not-for-profit organizations. The alumni’s prestige qualifies them to hold consultations with students, like résumé critiques, salary negotiations, how to apply to grad schools and how to get the most out of your degree.
“My experience has been great so far,” said Alumni Association President Kevin Sanchez. “This upcoming month I am helping one student review their résumé and having a conversation with another student regarding international affairs.”
The platform is a symbiotic relationship—not only benefitting the students, but fulfilling the advisors’ as well.
“As an alumn, I can give back to current students through mentorship in several areas of interest which is extremely rewarding. I am also able to further develop my own skills as a mentor and leader while expanding my SUNY New Paltz alumni network,” said alumnus Errol Eisner, vice president of strategic partnership at TSG Reporting. “A big passion of mine in general is mentoring others and educating people in the area of networking, career-searches and relationship-building.”
An important perk of the platform is that students can get connected with any alumni no matter their location. It allows students to decide when they’re ready to start networking, giving them the platform to do so.
“It removes the geographic boundaries that would otherwise limit our alumni and students’ ability to connect. It also puts the power in the hands of the students. I have had many students or younger alumni, come into the office looking to connect with alumni in a particular field or in a specific region,” Circe said. “This gives them the ability to search a database of alumni who have already opted into sharing their expertise.”
Students, however, haven’t taken full advantage of the platform in the way Circe hoped. She attributes this to the youth of the program only being promoted for three months.
“We have given out hundreds of informational flyers and have heard students say that it is a great idea but we would like to see the number of students taking advantage of the resource to be much higher. We currently only have about 30 students registered as advisees,” Circe said. “Alumni are eager to connect with students and those who have completed consultations have found it to be very rewarding.”