You know what I wish had gone on at my high school and university when I was there?
Alumni Association Day.
I just returned from St. Albans School where I was invited to speak as part of their Alumni Association Day 2013. This day is dedicated to the seniors at St. Albans. While everyone is in classes at the beautiful school next to National Cathedral, the seniors are tucked away in a far corner of the campus in a room that looks like it was designed specifically for the occasion. Wood paneling, big fireplace, and just enough room for the senior class to sit elbow to elbow, shifting in folding chairs.
Director of Alumni Relations, Don Swagart, is the master of ceremonies for this program that is jam packed from 8:30am-1:15pm. Each young man was given a packet of materials that included a pledge to give, schedule of the day, flyer for their EverTrue App, and alumni events coming up in the near future. The senior class gift pledge was particularly impressive because the seniors were entered to win $50 at Chipotle if they pledged any amount. This got everyone onboard very quickly as did a call to action from one of the student leaders.
Class is certainly in session and the day’s lessons revolve around the importance of being a St. Albans alum. The schedule is below. I think this model can be adopted to many schools in different ways.
ST. ALBANS ALUMNI ASSOCIATION DAY: 2013
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
The Manger Trophy Room
8:30 – 9:00 Continental Breakfast
9:00 – 9:30 Welcome and meet with Don Swagart ‘76
Explain the Alumni Association
Discuss the STAR Program
BOLD! Bulldogs of the Last Decade
Seek Class Secretaries
Explain the Necessity of Giving
Review the Alumni Website
Advertise for Their First Alumni BOLD Event
Vote for the McCune Prize
9:30 – 10:00 Session #1: What It Means to be an STA alumni volunteer – Jack C ‘49, Ryan T ’97, and Blake S ‘00
10:00 – 10:30 Session #2: College 101 – Martin M ’05, Alex R ’05, and Ben R “05
10:30 – 10:35 Break
10:35 – 11:00 Resume Review Session Don Swagart ‘76
11:00 – 11:15 Why Annual Giving Is Important with Caton B ‘95
11:15 – 11:45 Session #3: Alumni Career Session with Brendan S ‘93, Carter D ’88, and Quinn R ‘97
11:45 – 12:30 Session #4: Evertrue Presentation with Jesse Bardo
12:35 – 12:40 Final Recap
12:45 -1:15 Luncheon Program & photo opportunity for Evertrue and LinkedIn
1:15 END OF PROGRAM
What I really liked about the day is how passionate and diverse the alumni who returned to campus were. Lawyers who were on that track from day one to a man who wanted to be a professional Baseball player. The college student group spoke mainly about their experiences as St. Albans alumni transitioning to a different life- they were from Michigan, Colgate, and Stanford so they had valuable perspectives on various types of schools. Each story tied into St. Albans and brought relevance to the young men sitting before them.
The icing on the cake was the opportunity for seniors to take head shots for free during lunch. Lunch was catered from a local favorite BBQ place as a thank you to the seniors which was a great idea. Most of the students were not on LinkedIn yet but St. Albans brought in a professional photographer and a background for them to take their photos. What a great way to encourage everyone to join the professional network!
So my takeaways when putting an event like this on:
1. Make it mandatory and engaging
2. Tell many different stories- the alumni you bring back should appeal to different seniors in the audience and relate
3. Take the opportunity- senior class gift, ask for those who might want to be class secretaries, who wants to lead their first alumni event etc
4. Take LinkedIn head shots
5. Let your student leaders speak and drive conversation
6. Reward the audience
7. Capture the day’s events- Alumni will want to get involved with this and see how the students are being prepared. Admissions can also use this material.
8. Probably most important- make this fun! It is a great opportunity for everyone involved to think about what it means to be an alum.
It was a great day at St. Albans and I hope that this framework is something that other schools can do to get their seniors prepared for becoming young alumni. We would love to hear what other schools are doing with their students to expose them to the idea of being an alum. Please comment here or send me an email- Jesse@evertrue.com if you have case studies or suggestions to share.