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University alumni networks are about so much more than making money

Emily Laurie, Managing Director of Future First Global, blogs on what university alumni networks have in common with alumni networks for secondary schools. 

I was lucky to do an MSc at a brilliant university – the London School of Economics – and want to stay connected to what is such a great establishment.  But in reality when I see emails from LSE Alumni, I tend to delete them out of an assumption they will be asking for money.  Well not anymore!

Yesterday I went to meet with some members of the LSE alumni team, as at Future First Global we are interested to learn how our school based alumni model can be informed and improved by well-established university alumni networks.  What I found was they are dealing with many of the same challenges and opportunities as us, and that there is an emerging trend to make current students more central to the alumni network activities.  Here are some of the things both LSE alumni and ourselves are working on!

1.     Facilitating mentoring relationships

This is a central element of our model, linking up current students with former students to be relatable career mentors. This is something LSE has been doing and is focused on improving, specifically an online mentoring platform – which I am now going to sign up to!

2.     Supporting networks around the globe

The LSE alumni team is working to support events around the world to connect their alumni and advising on the development of networks in countries. We are currently supporting the development of a new school alumni network in Liberia and hope to scale up into ten new countries over the next couple of years.  All of this work, by Future First Global and LSE, is led by volunteers.

3.     Career panels for students

A central element of our model is bringing former students back to talk about their pathway to employment and answer questions from students. LSE alumni have volunteer special interest groups who arrange similar panel discussions.

4.     Asking students what they want

This week our partners in Liberia are out interviewing hundreds of children in schools across the country about what they might want to hear and learn from former students. Last year LSE undertook a massive survey with students about the same thing.

The scale and methods might be different, but at the core, building an alumni network for a rural school in Liberia is the same as building one for a leading international university. The alumni sector can learn from each other and we are committed to sharing and learning with everyone who is also working to unleash the untapped potential of former students to give back.


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