by Fadi Toma, International College of Manitoba, Canada; Marco Chavez, The Ohio State University, U.S.A; Joshua Gan, Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne, Singapore
Our world as International Education Professionals is dominated for the most part by forces out of our control. Whether political turmoil, market changes, educational agent management, or simply programming changes, we’re constantly pushed to adapt and shape our recruitment strategies accordingly. In today’s NAFSA blog series, we will examine that which is within our control, our current student population, and how we can enhance our international presence by tapping into our most important asset. Our three contributors, Fadi, Marco, and Joshua will walk you through their institutional paths to alumni engagement and have set in motion a list of best practices for engaging alumni in your recruitment conversations.
Fadi Toma: International College of Manitoba (ICM)
ICM, in Winnipeg, Canada has been actively utilizing alumni engagement as a tool; not only in recruitment but in our day to day practices. Whether it’s calling students to ensure they have applied and received their Canadian visas, training educational agents at our offshore sites, or hosting events when visiting partners are on campus, our alumni have played a crucial role. As we travel and wave our institutional flag, talk about our programs, and share a glimpse of campus life, we need to see these through a student lens. Simply put, students are looking for a perspective that will whisk them away and allow them to imagine themselves on your campus. Traveling with our alumni and allowing their stories to shine through has been an empowering experience for the recruitment team. your presentations may be flashy, but the raw experience and first-hand emotion that a student provides is without a doubt unmatched. This is why, at ICM, and throughout the Navitas network, we have emphasized and budgeted for alumni engagement, internships, and marketing. If you visit our Winnipeg-based college or any Navitas college for that matter, you are likely to interact with alumni, as many are hired by as part-time staff to managers in various departments. It is this network that ensures first-hand experiences are heard and alumni recommendations are implemented in order to provide the highest level of service to future students.
“As a brand ambassador for my college, I shared my experience with parents and students. While sharing my experiences with students, I felt quite nostalgic which I used to my advantage by connecting with them and providing in-depth knowledge about their future studies. Later on, I got an excellent platform in connecting with the students who were enrolled for Fall term, as I enjoyed answering their emails, questions, and making sure they were set up for success” Siddh Sheth, International College of Manitoba (ICM)
Marco Chavez: The Ohio State University
Alumni engagement is very robust at the domestic level. We are organized into clubs and societies. The Alumni Association Office works closely with clubs and societies around the United States to maintain a high level of engagement. They also foster a community of giving back to the university with opportunities for alumni to be involved in the recruitment and yielding of students. In the Undergraduate Admissions office, we have a full-time team member who is responsible for coordinating these opportunities for alumni but, more importantly, in training alumni to be informed representatives of the university. We use this same model for alumni located outside of the United States. We have well-established clubs in the UAE, Indonesia, Hong Kong, China, India, Taiwan, and other countries. These alumni also go through the same in-depth training as our U.S. based clubs. After the in-person training, they are assessed and then certified to represent the university. This certification must be renewed each year to account for changes in admissions policies or procedures. We hope that this training will enhance their personal mastery of what it is like to be a “Buckeye”.
Joshua Gan: Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne
The Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL) alumni network was formally established in 1926 and has been an integral part of the school's story ever since. For example, the continued existence of the school after World War II was only made possible due to alumni funding. Today, EHL has a dedicated Alumni and Industry Relations department, and a network of 70 alumni chapters in key cities globally organizing regular events locally, with 25,000 alumni in over 120 countries. Students are introduced to the alumni very early on with two six-month internships (built into the undergraduate program) in destinations of their choice, and an alumni mentorship program. Apart from word of mouth and having family members across generations enroll at the school, alumni also help with building the brand through features in collateral and across various digital and social platforms, Q&A panels at information sessions, interview future students and conducting workshops on their domain expertise. Potential students and their parents often appreciate the possibility of hearing directly from graduates.
More tips and best practices from Fadi, Marco and Joshua are available on NAFSA Network Resource. You can access the resource here.
Photo credits: Image from https://blog.hivebrite.com/why-you-need-an-alumni-management-platform/
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of NAFSA.