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Working with Alumni

These webpages were written by Carol Ormand, based on ideas compiled from the 2009 workshop on Strengthening Your Geoscience Program.

Your alumni can be a wonderful resource for you and your students, with a little effort on your part. If they had positive experiences in your program, many alums will be happy to "give something back." An ongoing relationship with your department offers them opportunities, as well.

Benefits

Staying connected to your alumni builds community, keeps your department informed about careers and career trends, can help students get jobs, gives alumni an opportunity to have input and offer advice about your programs, and can build connections from your department to potential employers, graduate schools, internships, local K-12 schools.

Getting Connected

  • Conduct an exit survey, and ask for long-term email & address information. See examples of exit surveys from geoscience departments.
  • Use an online form on your departmental website to connect with alums. Read about online survey tools.
  • Produce a newsletter, and ask recipients for help contacting other alums.
  • Ask for contact information at events (alumni events at professional meetings, etc.): have a mechanism for collecting business cards.

Staying Connected

  • Create a facebook group for alumni. Or have some of your current students create the group and invite alums to join.
  • Publish a departmental newsletter. (See examples in the Carleton College Geology Department newsletter archives.) One option is to collect information for the letter online. You can also start small and work your way up to a more comprehensive publication.
  • Have an annual picnic for your department and its alumni.
  • Schedule gatherings at professional society meetings.
  • Schedule a gathering during your annual institutional reunion. (Some departments team up with other departments in the STEM disciplines.)
  • Invite alumni to special events such as faculty retirements or a building dedication.
  • Invite alumni to speak on campus (at Homecoming, career fairs, or your seminar series). St. Lawrence University's Geology department hosts a Geology Alumni Conference every three years, at which alumni present their research, share their career experiences, and connect with each other and with current students.
  • Invite alumni to send their poster presentations to decorate your hallways.

Alumni and Careers

Alumni and Program Assessment

  • Form an advisory board made up of alumni in the geosciences (& beyond?). Ask for their input on curriculum and other program elements.

Additional Resources

  • The American Geological Institute presented a webinar in February, 2011, on Engaging Geoscience Alumni as Career Resources. That webinar includes case studies of how two geoscience departments have chosen to work with their alums, expanding on some of the ideas listed here.