Commencement, and the days that lead up to it, is the last chance you have to introduce seniors to Switchboard on campus.
It's a busy, chaotic time for seniors and their families, but the right approach can pay off.
Below are a few different strategies to consider, and some examples of what various partners have done in the past:
Helping graduating students understand the power of Switchboard is important! Here are some ideas on how seniors might utilize Switchboard during this time:
- for advice on moving to a new city, getting a job, going to grad school, traveling, etc.
- for more tangible things like furniture for a new place or housing leads
- for help navigating a new job at a specific company or resources at a new grad school
- advice to current students heading into their senior year
- more tangible things like rooms for rent, on-campus positions they are leaving, or items they are no longer using
- internship opportunities at companies they are now working with
Including examples of posts is extremely helpful when encouraging others to sign up for Switchboard. It's too easy to feel like you might not have an ask or offer, when realistically we ask and offer things in conversation every day!
Talking to students before the big day can help ensure they get connected with Switchboard before their attention shifts to the myriad of next steps graduation brings. The weekly digest emails they receive from Switchboard will help to keep them engaged as things get busier. We’ve seen schools do this several ways including:
- Posting about Switchboard in social media.
- Tabling in areas where seniors tend to congregate (or maybe even in areas where they are picking up caps and gowns or graduation information!). Even more ideal if you can create a fun, visual element to your tabling (see Reed's example, below).
- Taking a few minutes to stop into a few larger senior classes to share about Switchboard directly. Tip: bring a postcard (or similar leave behind) with the information you’re sharing!
- Including information about Switchboard in emails being sent to seniors about next steps.
Sharing information about Switchboard when talking to new alumni about ways to stay engaged with your institution during commencement is a great idea! It makes clear that your institution is excited about keeping in touch, and reassures graduating students that they still have a network to both ask for help from and offer help to!
A few weeks after commencement can be an ideal time to loop up with your new alumni. At this point, the chaos of transition will likely have slowed, and new grads may be missing campus and the connections they made there. Reminding them that Switchboard is a way to stay connected will help them know their community cares!
Here's three examples of how partner institutions put this into practice:
Santa Clara University:
SCU employs a multi-pronged approach to meet seniors where they're at. Here are just a few of the ways the engage with their graduating class:
- Full page flyers handed out to each graduate in their grad picnic bags
- Highlighting Switchboard in various emails (housing emails, new alumni emails, graduation information emails, etc.)
- Announcements at senior events (also including 1/2 page flyers to handout at some of these events)
- Working with faculty & staff asking them to encourage seniors to sign up
- Utilizing social media including a Facebook campaign (created with a very small budget), a Snapchat takeover focused on seniors but relevant to all students, and posts to the graduating class's specific FB page
- Putting out flyers in the bookstore, at the Career Center, and in other prominent places seniors visit
- In-person tabling in a high traffic area as graduation nears
- Making class announcements with help from the Student Alumni Council
In the earliest days of Reed Switchboard, we engaged graduating seniors the day of commencement rehearsal by taking their photos. We asked them to write their passion on a giant blackboard and pose for a photo in front of it. Then we gave them a business card and invited them to post about their passion on Switchboard. You can find the entire project here.
Denison wanted to leverage the spirit and enthusiasm around graduation to bolster their Switchboard, so they created this email and sent it just before graduation to their entire alumni community. Before they sent this email, they also took some time to promote their Switchboard to their graduating class, and the combination of these two actions led to some significant adoption and engagement. In just one week, Denison added over 400 new members (a 64% increase), saw over 40 new high-value posts, and over 100 new connections, all of which added significant momentum heading into the summer break.