The New Alumni Community for Over 40 Thousand Graduates
How to find your ex-classmates years after graduation? Is it possible to receive full information on the activities and events of your alma mater? For these purposes one needs a communicative platform, believe stakeholders of the project called Association for Alumni. Alexander Golovaty, head of the Communicative Center for Students and Alumni, shared about the new system for those who want to keep in contact with other alumni and participate in university’s activities regardless of how long it’s been since their graduation.
Would you please talk about the system of communication with alumni that was used before. How did it work?
It was well organized — the alumni met frequently, organized various communities for business and entertainment. But in 2005 the situation had changed, one of the reasons is a generation change. That is why we are working on a new communication system using the experience of other universities and needs of graduates.
What tools will you use? What is this new system?
Our main principle is "Win-Win." It means that everybody receives some benefits thanks to collaboration. As the Association for Alumni, which is the main communicative center, we will help everybody find an addressee and control the execution of all queries.
We chose four main areas of development. The first one is participation in events. ITMO organizes and takes part in local and citywide events as well as those on a national scale. According to our study, alumni want to learn about them and take part so as to spend their leisure time and promote their businesses. We plan to provide all necessary mechanisms to give the alumni an opportunity to learn about an event in advance, register, receive relevant information and so forth.
The second area, which has never been transparent, is financial support of ITMO’s projects. Once the university gave alumni an opportunity to make their projects. Now it is the time for them to contribute to the development of the university.
Members of the Association for Alumni: Maria Yakimovich, Denis Miroshnichenko, Alexander Golovaty and Ekaterina Kalkina
The third area is to establish a loyalty program for ITMO’s alumni. Those who participate in the university’s events and projects and assist in various activities will be able to become members of the community officially and receive some bonuses from ITMO’s partners. For instance, they will get discounts on educational courses, will be able to use the university"s labs, visit the events that take part in ITMO and make necessary contacts.
The fourth area includes services of the Association and the university. It will help commercialize the projects related to the alumni’s activities. Obviously, it is very difficult to arrange this in terms of the law. The easiest example is organization of meetings for alumni on the turn-key basis. Any graduate can apply, so we will organize everything including sending invitations to his groupmates — unfortunately many ex-students stop keeping in touch with their peers.
How many people have joined the community for now?
These days we’ve made contacts with 35−40 thousand people, and work more effectively with 1,500 of them. Now when we know what they need, we can meet all their requirements.
The official website of the Association for Alumni
The main communication channel of the Association for Alumni is its website. It allows alumni to look for each other and communicate. Everybody can find information about four directions mentioned above. Using the website one can submit an application and read about upcoming events and projects. Furthermore, each alumnus has an opportunity to receive targeted information in accordance with his or her interests. We don’t use automated newsletter systems, as some people don’t need this, others are not included in the list of receivers for some reasons. We are going to use a unified comprehensible system with a person-focused approach.
What are the upcoming projects? Please share the plans for the future.
First of all, we are going to update the base of alumni contacts. Among the projects we are going to develop there is the Alumni Week, which will start on April 27−29. Each day will be devoted to certain topic. Its main goal is to gather ex-students and present ITMO’s achievements to them. The events of this week will be devoted to the main development area of the university such as science, innovations and entrepreneurship.
During the Alumni Week we also plan to award the winners of the Alumni Contest. We hope that it will become annual. For instance, one of the prizes will be given to the "Ambassador Alumnus," an activist who collaborated with the alumni and contributed to ITMO’s promotion a lot.