The alumni relations office is trying to make it easier for student groups to bring alumni guests to their events.
Officials and the Student Association piloted a new form last week for student organizations that want to host events with former students. Student group leaders said the process would allow organizations to contact more alumni beyond those they personally know – guests who can provide valuable career and life advice for current students.
The form asks for information about the type of event student organization leaders are planning and in what activities – like networking, reviewing resumes, speaking on a panel or engaging in social activities – they want alumni to participate. The alumni office will look for appropriate contacts for the event after the form is submitted.
SA President Peak Sen Chua said he started working on the project with Andrea Kovachy, the associate director of student alumni programs in the Office of Alumni Relations, at the beginning of the summer. Chua said he wanted to add to the resources already available for organizations to connect with alumni, like the GW Association Grant Program, which awards up to $2,500 to alumni organizations and student groups to support alumni-student collaborative programming.
Before the new form, he said students had to know alumni if they wanted to invite them to events. Now, Chua said it’s an easier process because students can fill out the form and be connected with alumni who can provide a wealth of resources and contacts.
Students have to submit a request for an alumni guest at least four weeks ahead of time, which Chua said was necessary to allow the office time to sift through the large alumni network across the world and produce contacts for the event.
“Students here know about the famous of the alumni – you have your Kerry Washington’s, your Colin Powell’s and all those people,” he said. “But I think really seeing where the possibilities lie beyond campus and seeing where many GW alumni have chosen to pursue their passions and do amazing things, we want students to be able to know about that.”
He said the SA would promote the program on its website and discuss the form in meetings with student organization leaders in the coming weeks.
Matt Manfra, the interim vice president for development and alumni relations, said while the form is live, it is still in a pilot phase and the office has asked a “handful” of student organizations to test it out.
He said the form will “streamline the process of connecting student organizations with alumni who are willing to volunteer their time to engage with students.” The project aims to facilitate and create new relationships between students and alumni, Manfra added.
“Students and alumni can learn a great deal from one another,” he said in an email. “The connections made often result in networking and career opportunities. Alumni contribute their time, money and expertise to help sustain and grow GW student organizations.”
He said the office has discussed the process with the SA and student group leaders, as well as the Alumni Association and the Division of Student Affairs.
Connor Johnson, the president of Alpha Kappa Psi, a co-ed business fraternity, said a streamlined process would help the organization get in contact with alumni for the many networking and professional development events they host, like Ready Set Grow, a career development event the group started last academic year.
“I’ve felt since I came to GW that it’s hard, unless you’re doing it on your own through LinkedIn, to get in contact with alumni,” he said. “We reach out to full-time employees a lot, and if it’s a GW alum, they’re much more likely to come talk with us.”
He said alumni are invaluable to members of the organization, especially for freshmen in the business school who may not know what they want to do with their careers. Talking to alumni at events can help new students decide what career paths they might be interested in, Johnson said.
Sara Dougherty, public relations chair for the GW College Republicans, said in the past the organization connected with alumni through personal relationships or previously established connections. The form will ease that process and introduce organization members to new alumni, she said.
“I definitely think it will make it easier to set up those events if there’s a direct line of communication – and the University has greater access to that contact information than we have on file,” she said.
Last year, the College Republicans hosted a career panel featuring Republican alumni. Dougherty said the organization’s membership found the event valuable and requested to hear more from former students in the future.
“It’s always nice to have resources from the same side of the aisle and who have also attended GW,” she said.