Connecting Alumni With Employees
HAVE YOU HEARD THIS ONE?
A ST. THOMAS ALUMNA, A HIRING MANAGER AND AN INDUSTRY THOUGHT LEADER WALK ONTO CAMPUS …
The punchline? They’re the same person. In the past, if the person walked onto campus, they’d log many steps visiting three different offices.
Recently, the university combined the Alumni Engagement, Career Development and Corporate Partnerships teams into a single team (ACC), under the leadership of new Associate Vice President Karyn McCoy. Supported by a new space for engaging students, alumni, employers, corporations, and other members of the Tommie Network, the ACC creates synergies that will result in stronger partnerships and increased opportunities for all involved: students, alumni and corporate partners.
STUDENT CAREER SUCCESS ELEVATED BY THE TOMMIE NETWORK
Student career readiness, supported by internships, an intentional career plan and interactions with employers, is more important than ever. The challenging job market prompted students to lean into mentoring
and networking with alumni to increase their career readiness, make connections and launch their careers.
The Tommie Network rose to the occasion. A recent survey of alumni shows that St. Thomas students are more likely (as compared to peer institutions and the national average) to receive helpful career direction while they are students, and the institution is more likely to help students network with alumni. This contributes to St. Thomas graduates being more likely to say they were prepared to begin their career when they graduated and are satisfied with their current career.
The result: Even in a pandemic, 2020 graduates reported career success at a level on par with pre- pandemic rates. Their success was supported by the strength of the Tommie Network.
ALUMNI ARE OUR CAREER KEYMASTERS
Personal and professional schedules are full – even during a pandemic – and alumni want to spend their time and energy on pursuits that have impact. The No. 1 type of engagement experience that alumni seek involves career and classroom interaction with students. Many share feedback that working with students is a highlight of their volunteerism at St. Thomas.
That enthusiasm is building: In a recent survey, St. Thomas alumni were asked “How interested are you in getting engaged with St. Thomas’ journey to make progress on each of the following items?” An astounding 60% of our alumni raised their hand for “[Help] students gain real-world knowledge through practical experiences.” The second on the list? Help St. Thomas graduate students who employers want to hire.
Helping current students enter the workforce can be as simple as talking about positive St. Thomas experiences in the workplace or acting in ways that demonstrate the morally responsible workplace leadership. Over time, employers and colleagues will take notice.
ORGANIZATIONS: CRITICAL PARTNERS FOR EMPLOYMENT AND COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT
For many years, universities and employers have used online tools to connect and facilitate the hiring process. Most recently, St. Thomas converted to Handshake, an industry-leading platform that makes it easy for employers to engage with the university by posting jobs, attending job fairs, scheduling on- campus interviews, etc.
Employers who want to hire St. Thomas students can rely on the Career Development team to support their needs, now in partnership with our Corporate Partnerships staff. What begins as a great hiring experience with St. Thomas and outstanding student talent can evolve into additional ways to partner with the university, especially when missions and values are aligned.
Every organization has unique ways that their foundation or employees want to give back to the community. With the reorganization of the ACC team at St. Thomas, the employer relations experts and the Corporate Partnerships team work together to listen to and make possible new and impactful partnerships. One example: the co-designing of the new STEAM building (see Page 18 for more information). It is an excellent example of industry and academic thought leaders collaborating on a sophisticated, closely aligned investment opportunity with high impact for all involved.
NEW LEADERSHIP, NEW VISION
Finding benchmark institutions as we move into this new converged organization has proven difficult: Not many schools have invested in this same structure for student success. It truly will be a differentiator for St. Thomas, and it calls for just the right leader.
McCoy joined St. Thomas in the spring from DePaul University in Chicago and welcomes the chance to direct a new trajectory. “Much of my career has included stepping into brand-new positions where I had the opportunity to create and build something impactful," she said. "In this role, I’m excited to explore how we build and position the ACC to elevate the benefits for everyone involved.”
Joining McCoy and adding bench depth to the career team are three new career educators, each specializing in specific career areas. Violeta Lara will focus on assisting students going into STEM fields, Luciano Guzman will support students who will work in business, and Jill Thompson will focus on giving career support to students pursuing liberal arts majors in the College of Arts and Sciences.
BRINGING IT TO THE HEART OF CAMPUS LIFE
Murray-Herrick Campus Center is physically and figuratively at the center of the lower quad on the St. Paul campus. In addition to being a hub for the underground tunnels connecting the upper quad to Summit Avenue, it historically hosts all forms of student life: a residence hall, commuter student space, classrooms, student services, enrollment, the Post Office, the bookstore, and the former “Blue Lagoon” gathering space, The Grill and Scooter’s food venues.
As of summer 2021, when entering the building from the south below the clock tower, the new Tommie Network office space greets students, alumni and employers alike. The reception area will invite all to enter and engage with the vibrant Tommie Network.
The space, designed by Nelson, Inc. (led by Ozzie Nelson ’87), reimagines how each member of the Tommie Network can connect with each other and the university. The first designed hoteling space on campus, it represents a responsible rethinking of space utilization, especially post-pandemic.
Students, alumni, employers, faculty and staff can all flex into and out of the new open and naturally lit space. (Read more about Nelson.)
THE TOMMIE NETWORK, REIMAGINED
Alumni from all eras know and can be proud of this: St. Thomas produces morally responsible leaders who are collaborative and creative problem-solvers who do well in their workplaces and do good in their communities by approaching their lives with a sustainable and inclusive mindset. Students rely on the Tommie Network for career exploration and networking. This newly organized ACC and Tommie Network space will help convene and amplify the power of the Tommie Network to elevate the St. Thomas reputation, allowing past, current and future students to better the workplace and build stronger communities.
Next time you visit campus, stop by to visit the new Tommie Network space. We promise that you won’t need to take as many steps to get there.