Problem to be Solved
Oberlin’s culture of embracing individuality reflects the student body’s remarkable diversity in terms of interests, career aspirations, backgrounds, and demographics. While this diversity provides an ideal setting for a liberal arts education, it presents unique challenges for the college’s Alumni Relations and Career Services departments.
How can alumni who fiercely value individuality feel engaged with the collective body of Oberlin grads? And how can alumni in such widespread industries operate as a cohesive professional network? Danielle Young, Executive Director of the Alumni Association, partnered with Wisr to solve these challenges. According to Danielle,
Meanwhile, Lori Young, Director of Career Services, was conducting an assessment of students’ self-reported needs surrounding career development. Three clear pain points emerged:
- Students needed to start exploring careers earlier.
- Students needed access to more opportunities for work experience.
- Students needed stronger connections to alumni.
Several initiatives were already underway to address these challenges, but limited budget and staff resources made it difficult to scale the programs‘ reach beyond a few students.
Alumni Relations and Career Services took point on launching the Oberlin Wisr Community, with ongoing support from a dedicated customer success expert. Oberlin enjoyed immediate success surrounding student and alumni adoption. Danielle attributed the ease of implementation partially to the easy-to-use design of the platform:
While the Oberlin Wisr Community is still less than a year old, preliminary results are outstandingly positive. By all metrics, the launch has exceeded expectations for both stake-holding administrators and the students and alumni who use the platform. Among users who shared feedback on an advisory session, 95.7% gave a positive review.
The Oberlin Wisr Community now contains over 2,600 members (for comparison, the undergraduate body is about 2,900 students), including students, alumni, parents, supporters, staff, and faculty. Before launching to students, Wisr ran an email drip campaign to pre-populate the network with advisors, ensuring that students would have a clear call-to-action after signing up. With a strong collection of advisors ready to answer questions, Oberlin opened the network to a small trial cohort of business students. Following high engagement and positive feedback from the test group, Wisr was released to the remaining student body. Lori summed up the value the network offered these students:
Alumni Relations and Career Services continue to work with Wisr to develop campaigns to increase student use of the Oberlin Wisr Community. Most recently, the administration partnered with a campus coffee shop for the Coffee Connections project, an incentive program that offers a free coffee to each student who creates a profile or requests an advisory session with an alum.
Wisr has helped Oberlin patch missing alumni data and build a better understanding of students’ goals. High alumni adoption came hand-in-hand with updated contact information like preferred email and current city of residence. For the 70% of alumni who choose sign up via LinkedIn, Oberlin also mined key career data like current employer and job title.
Oberlin looks forward to seeing the full benefits of Wisr play out as member students begin to graduate and start careers. As the network gains traction, administrators see potential for investigating other applications of the software, like providing advisory resources for prospective students.