Everyone gains when colleges offer career coaching to their alumni. If the mission of colleges and universities is to grow and nurture strong talent, and I believe it is, then we must establish ourselves as relevant beyond graduation. Ideally, alumni will consider their school as partner throughout their career—both a place to go for counsel as well as a place to offer their own expertise.
Pressing budgets require that schools be creative about how to support the initial expense of career coaching to alumni until the program can support itself–and you can anticipate that it will. Throughout my years in this industry, I have seen alumni coaching paid for by Boards of Advisors, by corporations closely associated with the academic institution, by individual donors, and by the alumni themselves.
From an active partnership perspective, give and take naturally evolves. In the best case, students look to the school to help them launch their careers and continue to do so as they develop their professional lives. While studying, they have met alumni as informational sources at networking events, during internships, and as mentors. As they pursue their own work lives, alumni participate in kind, considering the institution as a “thought leader” and “partner” in their own career progression. They may simultaneously serve as and seek mentors for networking and support, pass job leads, hire interns and employees, volunteer their time to speak on panels, and enroll in continuing education courses. They contribute their leadership and often financial resources back to the university because there is mutual benefit along the way.
Very recently, I spoke with an alumna of a major university’s international studies program, who had returned to her graduate school for career assistance. She was thrilled with the help and said, “It was the first time I ever seriously considered donating money to them.” And, it happens, she has plenty of money to donate.
Do you have a story you can share about your school’s commitment to lifelong career management services?
Contributing Author: Susan Bennett