LiveAlumni Talk | Flore Dorcely-Mohr, Berkeley College
This Talk features Flore Dorcely-Mohr, Senior Director of Career Services at
Berkeley College. It is a conversation primarily focused on Career Services and Flore shares the strategies that she and her team have been using to better handle the pandemic.
Managing and scaling Increased COVID workflow
Creative ways to manage your pool of data
Tracking metrics for better long term engagement
How to engage alumni from a Career Services point of view
Engagement ideas for community colleges
Alumni engagement via social media platforms
Connecting students to alumni for internships and volunteer opportunities
Social Media platforms for engagement
Establishing good relationships with corporations
Engaging graduate student alumni
Flore has been working at Berklee College for almost 7 years. She works with the online and ground campuses, with students and alumni. She calls herself a remote work advocate and lately her focus has been on how to increase opportunities for underrepresented groups in the remote workspace.
According to Flore, this is an exciting time for Career Service Professionals because there's so much opportunity for grads and students, but preparing them and engaging is more time-consuming than ever before because of COVID. So much so, that she is finding that she is having to manage and scale her own level of engagement and interaction.
Q. How to use LiveAlumni in a Community College that doesn't have much emphasis on Alumni Programs
Flore's exact words are "LiveAlumni is going to be your best friend!" With it you can slice and dice the data charts in a way that's targeted. For example, in less than 5 minutes, LiveAlumn expert, Vanessa, pulled a list of more than 100 people who Flore could engage with for an interior design program.
Be creative when gathering data on your alumni. Flore scouts for information about their students from the other students; by looking at the classes that the student took; by gathering information from their faculty members; and by stalking them as students on social media platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter.
Put yourself in their shoes. For them to engage with you, you have to give them something they want. Asking them to fill out your form or your survey is not a good enough motivator
For making contact with alumni, Flore says she pulls emergency number contacts from different forms the students fill out and doesn't hesitate to reach out this way if she is not getting a response otherwise from her students. She also reaches out the old-fashioned way via a postcard in the regular mail. The card contains just a few details about a new job opening, a birthday wish, etc. When the pandemic hit she made it a rule for all of the counselors to reach out and just ask how people were doing without any real agenda.
Your aim should be to become a useful resource for your alumni - and to do that you have to be concerned about what they need. So you have to really put yourself in their shoes as much as possible.
One example of this is when Flore's team realized that some students were concerned that they weren't going to be able to apply for work or various programs because they did not have access to the latest computer technology. To dispel the myth that you have to have a desktop with peripherals, the Berkeley College team created a class on How to Develop your Career with your Mobile Device. They showed that you can do everything on apple or android phones - from broadcasting to downloading, filling out and uploading forms, etc
Another example is their “Fear the Talking Dead” program during Halloween - where they had a little phone screen competition and training program. They gave attendants all the information that they would need via videos and handouts, people signed up and counselors called them within a set timeframe to conduct a mock phone screening for a job to help them practice how to present themselves during an interview. They learned little things like not to answer when driving, how not to interrupt too much, use the recruiter's name, etc.
Q. What are some of the metrics that should be tracked?
Flore says that her team tracks everything. She gets a list from academic advisement that basically data dumps everything on the student application into their salesforce database. There they store and track the same information throughout the student's journey at the school and beyond because students have access to resources from the Career Center for life.
They track address, demographics (race, first-generation), primary language, salary, how quickly they get placed at a job, if they're in a field related to their major, if they were school or self-placed, if they were previously employed, if they had previously declined the career center services and if so for what reason, etc.
Q: Do you track metrics year to year or semester to semester?
Berkeley college tracks the employment retention rate from semester to semester, as well as by their expected graduation date. It's important to track is semester to semester because there are so many students in flux - who might take years off at a time before returning to their degree studies. There are some graduates in 2020 who started in 2012!
Many are professionals and return years later for a credential because their career depends on it. Others are in flux because of family concerns and obligations, or because of carer changes.
Q. What's a good strategy to connect students to alumni internships, volunteer opportunities and employers in general?
Prioritize connecting with alumni. Flore explains that this works because they are natural mentors for current students. They lived a similar experience. Even if they're not in a position of power to actually hire someone, putting in a good word goes a long way. They can also be an ambassador and build a legacy for their school at their place of employment. This can be for internships, for volunteer programs, mentorships, informational interviews etc.
Alumni can also host virtual chats with students from their major and about what they can do to help them to be successful. She says that at Berkeley College they really do a lot with their alumni to be their ambassadors out in the world
Even if the alumni is for some reason are disgruntled with the school, Flore suggests you can still make headway by showing you want to remedy the situation. And in fact, many times these alumni can turn out to be the school's greatest champions.
Q. What percentage of students enroll in Berkeley College custom workshops?
Recently an alumnus working at the DEA offered a workshop where current students and alumni were invited and 50 people showed up out of a population of 4,500 to 5,000. This is actually a great attendance rate - but Flore suggests Live broadcasting workshops for even better viewership.
Q. Thoughts on Social Media platforms for engaging alumni?
Spencer from the School of Visual Arts mentioned that they have found that their students are using and engaging on Instagram, whereas they are more stagnant on Facebook and LinkedIn. For Berkeley, Flore shared that there's more traction (group activity, job posting and events) on Facebook groups, especially for the older alumni.
Groups are a better way of keeping in touch with students and alumni than a page on Facebook because they are forums where students are communicating with each other. And using groups that already exist rather than putting effort into developing your own can save time and get better results.
Q What is the most critical piece when establishing relationships with corporations?
Make sure that you are top of mind as a choice for your grads. They're always going to ask you for your finest and brightest grads. So Flore suggests that you ask them to get involved with your students earlier on to get to know them before their Junior Year. An example is asking someone from their HR department to host a resume writing or mock interview workshop.
Connecting with faculty is also helpful, especially for those specific industries that might be tougher to get into. Flore recalls a Behavioral Health Major once approached her looking for work, and she, in turn, reached out to the faculty of the health program, asking them to introduce her to their colleagues working at hospitals and institutions to make that connection. It worked!
Flore notes that she is continuously asking faculty, staff and associates, to let her know about job opportunities that they're aware of because she is always looking to connect people she meets with her students. Asking an employer to open up their doors, build a tour and build a half-day shadow study program is not hard, and it’s an experience that can stay in a student's mind forever.
When it comes to working with employers, Flore says that you can find great employer partners with LiveAlumni. You can quickly build reports that make it easy for you to identify where your alumni are working, what positions they have, how long they've held that position, where they worked before, what graduate schools they attended, etc. It's all there! You can trace an alumnus' life and find ways to connect with them, so that they can, in turn, connect you to the resources that you need.
Q. Can you suggest specific engagement strategies for graduate alumni?
Graduate students are super busy so once again, you have to put yourself in their shoes and think about what would make them want to give up their free time to come in? Fun things work. A Super-Bowl-themed idea where you and call it “Touchdown on your Career!” Be creative.
These students don’t often have time available other than when they are driving somewhere. Podcasts can get their attention during their commutes. Flore’s team also featured a once-a-week Live at Five activity for the graduate students that were driving or coming home at five o'clock. Their student-employees logged into InstagramLive to tell participants about the latest, hottest job opportunities or events coming up for that week.
Think creatively and make career development moments out of any free time they might have. They are trying to meet family demands, job responsibilities and academic responsibilities all at once. Give them content that they are interested in such as how to balance work and home life, how to impress your boss, what rookie mistakes can you avoid, standing out as a remote worker, etc
Building trust is important. Get them to talk to you about what issues are blocking them from success in their career such as ageism, child care, health?
From the Alumni Relations perspective, Tammy Knudtson & Angela Erickson from Gustavus Adolphus College chimed in to talk about creating events for alumni - something they covered in their recent LiveAlumn Talk. For example, they do a Monday Cooking Class with an alumn presenting along with a culinary professor. Different topics for different days of the week featuring professors who have been very successful.
Q. What have you guys done from the alumni standpoint for social engagement?
Flore says alumni like it when they do Group volunteering activities. They use an app called Charity Miles to get alumni to participate together in activities and in turn corporations will donate to different charities. It’s a way to do a group event that is virtual but still social.
They also had a vision board exercise with Padlet, a visual writing tool. Participants made collages, posted pictures and text about their goals, feelings on COVID, or any other way to self-express. It gave people a visual portrait of how everyone else was feeling and was a unique and effective engagement tool.
Want to watch more LiveAlumni Talks?
Sean is just one of many inspiring members of the LiveAlumni community who have been sharing their fundraising, prospecting and engagement strategies. If you’d like to learn more you can (1) register to attend one of our future Talks or (2) watch recordings of past Talks.