How Cornell is providing valuable career support to alumni

Cornell career sercices
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Recently, Ashley Budd of Cornell University joined the RAISE Blog to share some of her team’s recent unique virtual events

She’s back this week to tell us how they’re curating Cornell career resources in alumni affairs to provide valuable, scalable, and timely career support to alumni that need it.


 

In the spring of 2020, marketing and alumni affairs team members looked at all of the content the university was creating for the public. We found lots of amazing content for business people and anyone interested in COVID-related medical news. The content audit found gaps, however, in career and wellness-related events, stories, and resources. 

Many of our alumni in the service industry were hit hard in those early months, and we knew interest in career support was going to only increase throughout the pandemic. On top of that, providing “scalable, relevant alumni career support” is outlined as one of the engagement areas of focus in the 2020-2024 Cornell Alumni Strategic Plan.

Finding our lane

A recent Forbes article describes how our career outcomes directly relate to the value of our educational experience and how likely we are to recommend or donate to our alma mater. I was delighted to join a working group focused on career support. The team of more than a dozen colleagues came together from alumni affairs and development offices across the university.

This work was convened by thoughtful, devoted leaders in Cornell alumni engagement initiatives and student and young alumni programs. With no formal career program within alumni affairs, we needed to make sure whatever we created was within the scope of our roles. Each college at the university offers career services, we wanted to offer alumni career support. 

The charge was to provide career programming, teach alumni how to network, facilitate alumni to alumni connections, and connect alumni to other career development opportunities. We would not be managing career services or offering career counseling.  

In addition to the content analysis, the working group established benchmarks with peers and sought out feedback from university partners and volunteers. Through alumni interviews we learned alumni were looking for resources categorized by industry, they wanted hard and soft skills training and many of them had already landed jobs through Cornell connections.

The career support hub

By summer we had a career support landing page and a new series of events. The alumni career support landing page is a career hub for all alumni resources, linking out to each college’s career service website. 

Cornell Career Support

Key landing page content: 

  • Featured events
  • Links to career platforms
  • Programming by industry
  • Resources by college
  • Entrepreneur profiles
  • Link to our streaming site – career channel
Cornell career support - 2
Cornell's Alumni Career Support landing page

Career support events

The first event in the series was in partnership with an alumna at LinkedIn. We know networking is an integral part of career development, and there are lots of benefits to understanding LinkedIn inside and out. The speaker walked live participants through optimizing their LinkedIn profiles, leveraging their network, and how to use the platform to its fullest. 

The next event in the series was in partnership with resume-building pros and alumni at Let’s Eat, Grandma. Their presentation was as fun as their company name and the event drew nearly 1,000 live viewers. 

One attendee shared why they liked getting career support from their alma mater: 

“Timely topic; nice to hear from fellow Cornellians that genuinely care about “us” and can identify with us in ways that others cannot.”

Real results

Recent events for Cornell career support aren’t just attracting young professionals. The average attendee age at the resume reboot was 44. The oldest attendee was 89 years young. 

In the first half of this fiscal year, we’ve connected more than 4,000 people to our career support resources. Looking back, we might see this shift in focus as a classic covid pivot. But, for me, the whole exercise is a useful reminder to identify content gaps and invest in filling them. 


 

 

Ashley Budd Cornell

Ashley Budd is the director of marketing operations at Cornell University for their division of alumni affairs and development. Learn about more projects like this one by subscribing to Ashley’s weekly newsletter, Ashley in Your Inbox

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