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The Tech Revolution In Alumni Networks

The Tech Revolution In Alumni Networks

I had the privilege of speaking three weeks ago on a panel discussion at the ASU-GSV Summit in San Diego discussing the latest trends in student and alumni career services and in particular the alumni technology out there.

The panel was entitled, ‘The Tech Revolution In College Career Networks’ and featured alongside me were the following distinguished colleagues:

  • Andy Chan, (moderator), Vice President for Innovation and Career Development, Wake Forest University
  • Leah Lommel, Assistant Vice President and COO of EdPlus at Arizona State University
  • Preston Silverman, Co Founder and CEO, Raise
  • Farouk Dey, Dean of Career Education and Associate Vice Provost, Stanford University
  • Gordon Jones, Dean, College of Innovation and Design, Boise State University

Please watch the full discussion below.

The discussion covered areas such as why we are seeing today the focus on career services (both student and alumni careers) and its supporting technology including the rising cost of college, the changing employment landscape and the need for scalable career service solutions (including alumni student mentoring).  It also covered what these leading institutions are doing to embrace this alumni technology revolution and advice to vendors on what they need to be doing better as well.

My own biggest learning from the discussion was to hear career services professionals in higher education talk about the shift of purpose in their own roles, as Stanford’s Farouk Dey put it,

from being transaction providers of career placement, to providers of career education.

Providers of career education should not focus on placing students into jobs but rather equipping and educating students on how to develop their professional community of mentors, door openers and support network which appears to be the main path to their career goals.

This got me thinking that probably the biggest obstacle to this technology revolution in college alumni networks has probably nothing to do with technology.  Rather I see the biggest obstacle being a cultural one.  Colleges need to understand that to successfully deliver on this new career services vision and leveraging technology, requires the end of the silo thinking around the management of students’ careers.  In particular, the silo that I see daily between career services and alumni relations that must be torn down.

Technology has a huge role to play in supporting the revolution.

Yet I have left with the open question.  Is the higher education world ready and capable of embracing the cultural changes, in particular the cross departmental collaboration, required to unleash this revolution?

I would welcome your thoughts.

Worth also reading The Case for Mentoring. 

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