Providing Value to Alumni Early On : The "Life After IU" Campaign

In a lively roundtable discussion around student philanthropy at the CASE DV/VI Conference, I first met Emili Sperling of the Indiana Alumni Association.

Emili has an interesting task that uniquely matches her interests and background in student affairs. As an Alumni Programs Officer, she fosters relationships with current IU students that will last from their days on campus to when they walk out the door, a Hoosier for life.

Instead of putting the focus on senior giving, which also has an prevalent role on the IU campus, though the “Life After IU” program Emili focuses her efforts on providing useful workshops and classes to outgoing students, and to recent alumni.

While recently catching up with Emili on the “Life After IU” program, she expressed the value of having an attitude of “we are here to support you” in senior and young alumni programming. Recognizing that “the sooner you engage students the better,” Emili spends her time creating an enriching environment that assists students and recent graduates in their professional development.

To coordinate events that resonate with her community, Emili puts emphasis on looking at the student calendar. As Emili notes, it’s important to see “what are students doing at different points of the year.” For example, when students are approaching their 2-3 round in-person interviews in Novemeber, Emili realized an event on etiquette would be appropriate.

That’s when “What the Fork?” came to be.

By picking a title that got attention, Emili healthfully challenged the status quo on campus programming and said that “students were ecstatic about the name.” The event was a success, brought in a diverse crowd and taught everything from a proper handshake to tipping.

Yet, “What the Fork,” is just a part the active “Life after IU” series. Before their night of etiquette IUAA had hosted “Knock, Knock: Leveraging LinkedIn” in October with LinkedIn HigherEd Evangelist, John Hill. This month the series will include “Cha-Ching” a financial literacy event featuring a past alum who is sharing their experience in the sector to give back. Lastly, in April, the “City, Not a Town” event will help students navigate popular IU cities, such as Indianapolis, Chicago and DC.

An initiative like “Life After IU” provides alumni with valuable skills that will make them more prepared for the road ahead. What are some ways your advancement team works with current students outside senior giving?


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