The Georgetown University Student Association launched an alumni networking guide this past summer to help student organizations build stronger relationships with their alumni bases.
The Student Organization Networking Guide, created by GUSA Assistant Secretary of Alumni and Career Services Mitchel Hochberg (SFS ’15), is essentially a blueprint for how student organizations can establish an alumni network.
“I wanted the guide to be broad enough and specific enough to be usable by a wide variety of student organizations,” Hochberg said. “So there are tips on different techniques and the best practices, like a Facebook group or an exit survey for seniors.”
Hochberg said he wanted to create the guide because he felt strengthening organizations’ alumni networks would greatly benefit members.
“You are going to have access in terms of people, money, events and knowledge that you wouldn’t have otherwise,” Hochberg said.
GUSA Deputy Chief of Staff Tane Arana-Humphries (SFS ’15), who oversees Alumni and Career Services, acknowledged the difficulties of forming these student-alumni relationships.
“It can be intimidating to reach out when there’s very little known commonality between your Hoya experience and the alumni’s experience,” she said. “Knowing you have at least one common interest gives you a talking point, makes you a little more comfortable and can make the difference between a future career connection.”
Arana-Humphries also said she believes SONG would be valuable for organizations, regardless of their type or size.
“Georgetown organizations, minus a select few, are lacking in strong alumni bases and there’s no reason for it other than a lack of infrastructure,” she said. “It can seem daunting to start putting that stuff in place, and this really takes the legwork out of the process.”
Georgetown International Relations Club Chair Jeff Caso (SFS ’15) said the International Relations Club contacted alumni this past summer and was pleased to find many of them, especially ones who lived locally, looking to get more involved.
“I feel that the guide is a nice way to put to paper what a lot of clubs have traditionally been doing,” Caso said.
Last Friday, the IRC held its first official Homecoming event with about 100 alumni. The club is planning more pre-professional events with local alumni involvement.
Other groups view an alumni base as a way to further current opportunities.
“I think the guide is a great idea, and depending on the nature of one’s club, it can be a very effective tool in connecting current Hoyas with those that have gone on to be very successful in whatever it is that they do,” Men’s Club Basketball President David Burton (MSB ’15) said. “Strengthening our alumni base could affect our club with potential sponsorships, industry experts and familiar faces when we travel along the east coast.”
According to Hochberg, while SONG could certainly help with fundraising and procuring job opportunities for members, the primary focus is on developing mentor relationships first.
“We want freshmen and sophomores meeting these alumni and approaching it from an informational perspective much more than a networking, get-me-a-job perspective,” Hochberg said. “You can build relationships with these alumni, and you then have a variety of contacts who have experience and who can help you. And then if you do want a job, you have someone you know.”
As for the alumni, Hochberg said SONG is aimed at reconnecting with graduates specifically from the last 10 years.
“Those who graduated from the last 10 years are much more likely to get involved and associate their time with a specific group rather than the school in general,” Hochberg said.
The Student Activities Commission advertised SONG in an email to student organization leaders at the beginning of the semester.
Still, Hochberg was unsure of how the guide has been utilized so far.
“We’re still in the outreach phase of the guide. We want to get groups to be able to hear from each other and talk about what they liked with the guide,” Hochberg said. “Our hope is within a few years or semesters, there will be a point where groups across campus have started to use SONG and that it is able to help and provide benefits to these organizations and students that they would not have had otherwise.”