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Young alumni engagement: Harnessing Generation #ShowMe

CCAeLearning webinar, January 25, 2018

Ben Seewald, Alumni Officer, Queen’s University

Categories: Alumni relations, Young alumni

A scalable, sustainable strategy to engage young alumni (YA) requires a thorough understanding of how YA view your school. Support them as students and offer what they need in the first 5 years after graduation to gain lasting loyalty and affiliation.

Ben Seewald of Queen’s University shared his insights into building a successful YA engagement program from the essential starting point: while future alumni are still students.

Aim high

  1. Measure your YA programming against exemplars and peers. Adapt some of their successful strategies to your school.
  2. Layer a YA element into existing events and programs; provide visibility for YA as leaders / ambassadors at high-profiles events.
  3. Use pilot projects to test out new strategies at low cost / risk.
  4. Employ campus allies to build bench strength: Deans, service departments, popular faculty members.

Transitions matter

  1. Graduating high-school students receive lots of recruiting attention from universities and colleges, but once they enroll, that attention ends. Alumni relations can help ease the transition into post-secondary education with tailored programs.
  2. Engage student leaders, interns and others as ambassadors or mentors to new students.
  3. Get students into the “future alumni” mindset through branding, perks and discounts.
  4. Provide career-prep events to help the transition from new grad to employee:
    • Backpack 2 Briefcase tips (with support from Career Services)
    • Coaching on how to write a good resumé, build a LinkedIn profile, develop soft skills: financial literacy, personal branding
    • Interview rehearsals
    • Mentoring / career advice from prominent alumni in a related field (alumni love to be engaged)
    • Dress for success / business etiquette lessons

Pilot projects build innovation

  1. Jump-start change with small, focused projects.
  2. Choose a social media platform (Instagram vs Twitter) and focus on it extensively for a trial period.
  3. Feature blogs by YA aimed at other YA and promoted through social media.
  4. Build the YA focus into alumni awards, magazine articles, social media posts.

Think like a Millennial / Gen Z

  1. Relate to this demographic now; it gets harder to capture attention with time and distance from graduation.
  2. Provide the experience of a mall rather than one store: a suite of discounts, access, perks.
  3. Listen to their needs and wants; make it easy for them to say yes to smaller commitments.
  4. Crowd-source fundraising appeals.
  5. Provide 7 - 9 touch points before any financial ask.

Tags: Alumni Relations, Young Alumni, millenials, Ben Seewald, Queen’s University, Generation Z