Alumni mentoring program


Published on

Alumni mentoring program

Published in: Education
1 Like
  • Be the first to comment

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Alumni mentoring program

  1. 1. Mutual Force White Paper on Alumni Mentoring Alumni Real World Information: An Opportunity for College Students, Ready to be ImplementedMutual ForceWhite PaperDecember 2011 1
  2. 2. Mutual Force White Paper on Alumni MentoringTable of Contents1. Introduction.................................................................................................................. 32. Design Possibilities for an Alumni Mentor Program as a Knowledge Asset................83. The Opportunity Cost of Not Implementing an Alumni Mentoring Portal...................94. The Solution is as Simple as Engaging Mutual Force for Your Alumni MentoringProgram.......................................................................................................................... 105. Conclusion.................................................................................................................. 11 2
  3. 3. Mutual Force White Paper on Alumni Mentoring 1. Introduction Business owners have long known that knowledge is an asset, even if accountants do not quantify it on the statement of profits and losses. By contrast, colleges tend towards thinking of their environment as an “institution,” separate, apart, and above business models. When a college thinks of its knowledge assets, it thinks of its academic faculty. And, colleges often quantify the value of its academic faculty in terms of numbers and percentages of faculty members with terminal degrees in their fields, previous positions in federal and state governments, and research grants from prestigious foundations. This academic equation of faculty equals the sum of knowledge misses out on the added value available from the wealth of information possessed by alumni. Through the academic lens, alumni are often equated to donors, financially important in terms of dollars and cents, but invited only as an occasional guest speaker in the intellectual sense. This White Paper presents the argument that colleges should actively cultivate and integrate alumni into its knowledge base, particularly through an alumni mentor portal to students. With the very recent and undeniable emergence of the global economy, it is critical for colleges to reframe their conception and utilization of alumni as knowledge assets for students. A competitive college education can no longer rest on the laurels of academia. For a college to competitively recruit and retain students and alumni donors, a college must now offer a new educational model that includes transitioning and integrating students into the global economy with on-going opportunities for networking with alumni.1. The Role of Alumni Mentors for College Students in the New Global Economy a. The Global Economy, the US Economy, and Increased Tuition as Drivers of a New Model for College Students Although the progression is as old as capitalism itself, it seems as if overnight we emerged in 2008 into language of the “global economy.” The very construct of the global economy is so new that it has yet to emerge, even in academia, as a separate discipline of “global economics,” in addition to traditional “macro-economics” and “micro-economics.” Corporations span continents. Stocks and currencies trade 3
  4. 4. Mutual Force White Paper on Alumni Mentoring 24-hours a day. And technology allows for collaboration in virtual settings, often centered around peoples’ home offices. What else has happened within this timeframe? The US economy stalled and the average pricetag for a four-year, private college education crested over $35,000.1 By January 2011, a survey of more than 200,000 college freshman at four-year colleges rated their emotional health as the lowest of incoming students in the past 25-years, the first year the survey was conducted.2 As the global economy is the future job market for current students, both parents and students are becoming discerning consumers of college as a commodity. What used to be a conversation about a liberal arts degree has now become one of practical necessity. What course offerings, internships, and co-op blocks does a college offer to help students build the kind of resume that will result in a job within six months of graduation? While career academics will continue to be the core knowledge asset of a post- secondary education, parents and students are now actively shopping for a college feature that can best be delivered by alumni: real world experience, knowledge, and networking. b. The Opportunity Offered by Alumni to Bridge the Gap for Students between the College and the Global Economy Alumni have long been looked to for financial contributions to their alma mater. Colleges might have a static webpage for alumni or a printed magazine with class notes. Occasionally, an alum might be invited as a guest speaker, largely through the happenstance of getting in touch with a former professor, who extends a one-time invitation. In the few instances of a famous alum or a legacy alum donor, there might be the added invitation of speaking at convocation. Even colleges with career development offices overlook the value that alumni can add. This view of alumni by both administrators and faculty at colleges misses the opportunity for alumni in the role of mentors as a valuable knowledge asset for1 “The Average Cost of a U.S. College Education,” U.S. News & World Report, August 14, 2010( “Record Level of Stress Found in College Freshmen,” Tamar Lewin, New York Times, January 26, 2011, p. A1( 4
  5. 5. Mutual Force White Paper on Alumni Mentoring current college students. Alumni can serve as the bridge between academics during the college years and the real world that looms upon graduation. Alumni possess knowledge on the conversion of their undergraduate degrees into jobs and careers. Rarely does an IT textbook spend pages on what types of businesses tend towards Ruby on Rails versus Joomla programming. Even less often do textbooks on the United States Supreme Court talk about opportunities for graduate studies in law that can lead to positions from litigation attorney to non- profit policy advocate. According to a study by Lexis-Nexis legal publishers, only 2% of people learn the most from a textbook, while 67% learn the most when working together with a colleague on a task.3 One has only to look at an alumni directory of employers to immediately see the breadth and wealth of alumni knowledge from solo practitioners in start-ups to Fortune 500 executives. This very same alumni directory can be the first ingredient in the development of an alumni mentoring program that actively recruits alumni to convert an alumni-only directly into a new resource for current students. c. What’s in it for students? The question of why alumni would be motivated to participate as an alumni mentor is readily answered that people like to talk about what they do and that people give of their time in ways they may not give from their checkbook. The question of whether students will participate if such an alumni mentoring program is offered has now become an easier sell than it was even ten years ago. Parents have had to face a tight job market for years, and students have seen everything from persistent household unemployment to Skype job interviews. Students today, even as high school seniors and as entering college freshmen, are already aware of the challenges they will face to find a job upon graduation, how long that job search will take, and whether they can distinguish their credentials in a highly competitive job market. To expand the knowledge base for colleges to include alumni mentors is to provide students with a host of sought-after benefits, including:3 Athey, Robin, “It’s 2008: Do You Know Where Your Talent Is?” Deloitte Research (New York, 2004), p. 7, citinga 2004 study by LexisNexis Deutschland ( 5
  6. 6. Mutual Force White Paper on Alumni Mentoring  learning about the “real world” of work and lifestyle;  exploring global career options;  acquiring skills in strategic job searches and applications;  establishing a professional network prior to graduation, including social networks like LinkedIn; and,  understanding the importance of continual retooling to respond to shifting employer requirements for employment. As described by leading organizational researcher, Robin L. Athey, MA, formerly of Deloitte Services, “It is often suggested that we learn about 70 percent of what we know about our jobs through our informal networks.” “…a targeted approach is required to connect people with the right people and knowledge. Rather than leave such connections to chance, organizations can do a lot to help individuals increase the quality of their interactions and knowledge flows. Encouraging ‘communities of practice,’ the self-organized groups that form around a common mission or interest, is one such means.”4 It is also reasonable to project that through a well-developed and active alumni mentoring program, graduating students will express a higher degree of satisfaction of their college education and, in turn, participate as future alumni mentors. In a recent, multi-year survey conducted by Rutgers University, “Unfulfilled Expectations: Recent college Graduates Struggle with a Troubled Economy,” the top four responses of what students would have done differently to be successful in today’s labor market and workplace were: 1. be more careful about or select a different major; 2. do more internships or work part-time; 3. start looking for work much sooner while still in college; and,4 Athey, id., p. 11. 6
  7. 7. Mutual Force White Paper on Alumni Mentoring 4. take more classes to prepare for a career.5 The modern global economy requires colleges to link students between academia and employment while students are still enrolled in and attending college. d. Alumni Mentoring Programs are a Win-Win for Colleges, too Alumni mentoring programs create a current connection between the alumni and the college. Alumni often have fond memories of their college experience and, upon receipt of an alumni magazine or reunion invitation, briefly think that they would like to be doing more with their alma mater. Creating a connection opportunity for alumni to be engaged with current students allow alumni to be useful to the students and also to learn from students about current course offerings and faculty, buildings and equipment, and campus life. As alumni learn this up-to-date information directly from current students, alumni learn about opportunities for donations of money and tangible goods, opportunities for program sponsorships, and even the larger, naming and legacy opportunities. And, if the alumni do not have children enrolled at the college, it creates a current link for alumni to feel that a contribution will help someone who is a current student, who they come to know. The alumni mentoring program can create a sense for alumni of being re-connected to their college as a vibrant part of daily life, no matter where in the world the alumni has gone and no matter whether the alumni has kept in touch with classmates or faculty. This anchoring also translates into the college growing connections to the world-at-large and shifting its culture from being a graduation date end-point into a global college family starting point.5 Godofsky, Jessica; Zukin, Cliff; and Van Horn, Carl, “Unfulfilled Expectations: Recent College GraduatesStruggle in a Troubled Economy,” John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University (May2011), p. 19 ( 7
  8. 8. Mutual Force White Paper on Alumni Mentoring2. Design Possibilities for an Alumni Mentor Program as a Knowledge Asset Until recently, the mechanics of an alumni mentoring program were cumbersome and time-consuming. It required college staff to send off letters and make telephone calls, to try to keep up with current residential and work addresses, and to reach out to find appropriate students to connect in a timely fashion with hopes that the student would follow-through. With every attempt at communication, there was a natural delay through the Postal Service or telephone messages and voicemail. Now, however, communication is virtual, and the staggered nature of these interactions allows for an ease of flow of communication that can accommodate even the busiest professionals. With platforms from LinkedIn for professionals to Facebook for non-profits, searching for and successfully establishing contact with alumni has become an efficient reality. Both students and alumni are already plugged into the power of social networking, which means that setting up an active alumni-student mentoring program can be as easy as creating connections and offering a secure portal for communication. And, colleges can take the mentoring dynamic even one step further when the college offers the communication portal. The college can convert student-alumni questions and answers into captured text to build a database for student research. Let’s say that a college student is interested in working for the International Monetary Fund in Geneva and that the alumni directory contains reference to an alum living in Geneva, Switzerland. Through an alumni-student mentoring portal, the college could generate an invitation to the student and the alum to connect with each other through the portal. Once that connection is established, as the student and the alum could engage in questions and answers about any business contacts in Geneva directly at the IMF, Passport requirements for travel, and finding housing. Then, the college can convert those typed messages into a database, searchable by other students. The next student who has a similar question would then be able to look up this information on-line, and start their communication with this or a different alum at the next level of detail and interest. Organizational management theories in business have established that one of the best methods to bring a new hire up to speed is to team him or her with another employee who can answer a range of questions from job-related functions to the “trivial” or “politically sensitive.” In other words, assign the new kid “an easily accessible 8
  9. 9. Mutual Force White Paper on Alumni Mentoring resource and confidant.”6 This same theory can be applied to students during their college years. “At the heart of any knowledge-retention strategy are the actual practices used to transfer knowledge. Among the many practices that contribute to knowledge retention are after-action reviews, communities of practice, mentoring programs, storytelling, expert referral services, interviews and training.” David W. De Long and Thomas O. Mann, “Stemming the Brain Drain,” Outlook Point of View (January 2003, Accenture Corp.), p. 42 ( “The high-performance learning characteristics of active collaboration and balanced, aligned learning activities depend on an effective technology and systems environment.” Don Vanthournout, et al., “Creating a High-Performance Learning Environment,” Outlook Point of View (September 2011, No. 2, Accenture) ( The Opportunity Cost of Not Implementing an Alumni Mentoring Portal As compared to prior cumbersome and unsatisfactory efforts at alumni mentoring programs, technology offers a not-to-be-missed opportunity to capitalize on alumni knowledge. As this technology-rich alumni mentoring portal is adopted, it will become mainstream for colleges to offer it to their students. To not adopt an alumni mentoring portal for students will be to lose competitive edge as against other colleges being considered by parents and students. We truly do not know how much knowledge is being lost from alumni because no one has tried to harness its capabilities until now. It is only because of a convergence of factors that the issue of lost knowledge from alumni has come to light.6 Rollag, Keith; Parise, Salvator; and Cross, Rob, “Getting New Hires Up to Speed Quickly,” MIT SloanManagement Review (Winter 2005), p. 40 ( 9
  10. 10. Mutual Force White Paper on Alumni Mentoring4. The Solution is as Simple as Engaging Mutual Force for Your Alumni Mentoring Program Fortunately, the design and implementation of a rigorous alumni mentoring portal is as simple as hiring Mutual Force. Mutual Force provides a robust and secure on-line mentoring platform between alumni and students, which is a cloud-based, software as a service platform. We understand that alumni are busy with their work and home life, and that simplicity of design and the implementation of the alumni mentor portal is important to keeping them actively engaged. Students have the benefit of being early adopters of any technology, and our product fits their preferences for cell phone based text communications. Important features of the Mutual Force Alumni Mentoring Portal include:  communication in a simple Q&A format between mentors and mentees;  communication that is secure, shared only between the mentor, mentee, and designated college personnel;  ability to export written communication with mentor and mentee names anonymized (for security) into .pdf format to build a database searchable by other students;  incentives for alumni and students to participate in Q&A, gaining redeemable points for each question and each answer;  goals based mentoring;  ability to share videos, pictures and documents between admin, mentors and mentees;  proprietary logic to calculate progress of mentoring and ability to track and improve the mentoring process;  proprietary filtering of messages for inappropriate content; 10
  11. 11. Mutual Force White Paper on Alumni Mentoring  a convenient dashboard for program administrators to administer the complete online mentoring process including matching of mentor and mentee, monitoring, analytics of mentoring, means to improve the mentoring process and reporting. Mutual Force is the innovator of this specialty product.5. Conclusion The opportunity has arrived for colleges to become early adopters of alumni mentoring portals, and, along with it, the opportunity to strategically position students for the global economy before graduation, to expand the culture of the college into the world-at-large, and to engage alumni in meaningful ways that will increase their dedication to the college.Take the first step to the alumni mentoring portal by contacting Mutual Force today at732.306.5794 or or by signing up at 11