What is the 10,000 Strong Connections Campaign?
Alumni play a critical role in helping students and fellow alumni chart their course in their lives beyond Oberlin, in particular, by building strong professional networks with other Obies and strengthening the Oberlin family in our communities. To try to measure the amount of activity already taking place, and to inspire more such activity, the Oberlin Alumni Career Committee aimed to document and facilitate 10,000 career-related connections between Oberlin students and alumni or between Oberlin alumni between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016.
The plans for 10,000 Strong Connections were developed by the Career Committee and presented to attendees of the Oberlin Alumni Volunteer Summit in September 2015. The name of the campaign is derived from the Oberlin alma mater, Ten Thousand Strong by Jason Noble Pierce.
How did we calculate our 10,000+ connections?
Chair of the Oberlin Alumni Career Committee Polly Washburn served as the hub for reporting and determined our criteria for connections made over the course of the year. Connections were derived from the following sources:
Switchboard - At the most basic level, Switchboard accounted for 2,394 connections, based strictly on comments made and messages sent. There are more exciting ways to interpret the Switchboard data however — see additional analysis below.
Events - These include both events on campus (networking receptions, Career Center sponsored events, and panels) with an estimated total of 1,095 connections, regional events (networking/panel events, social events, summer picnics) with an estimated total of 5,957 connections, and the Business Scholars winter term tour, which we estimate generated at least 616 connections.
Since the type of event determined the number of professional conversations we gauged took place at each, a more detailed extrapolation:
- If an event was a basic social event, we multiplied attendees by 2.
- If an event was officially billed as a networking/professional event, we multiplied attendees by 3.
- For highly focused events such as LaunchU or the Oberlin Business Scholars (two winter term projects focused on professional development and alumni connections), we multiplied the number of attendees by up to 4, depending on the scope of a specific event within the month of programming.
Facebook groups We looked at groups that were focused on some professional interest (the groups we knew about during the 2015-16 school year include Obies in Tech, Obies in Public and Community Health, Obie Writers, Oberlin Environmental Science, Oberlin Coilege EnviroAlums, and Oberlin Geology) for a total of 809 connections, which includes counting initial sign-ups to the groups as a form of connecting, plus counting posts and responses that were focused on assisting with career development. For the main alumni pages (our main alumni group + alumni club pages), we counted 211 career-related posts and responses made.
Mentors 33 mentor pairs were made through the Career Center, and we assumed that through the year, the mentor not only advised but made an additional 2 connections.
The Oberlin College & Conservatory LinkedIn group Surprisingly, this resource only resulted in our counting 19 questions and responses, though we’re guessing additional connections happened offline or through one-on-one connections.
Winter term From the Career Center, we learned that 147 winter term internships were offered by Oberlin alumni.
Logged via the 10,000 Strong Connections form We had a self-submitted form for alumni to fill out with connections made during the year, which accounted for 45 connections.
All the connections were logged quarterly and reported to the Oberlin Alumni Career Committee, the Career Center, and the Alumni Leadership Council. And as of July 1, 2016, we accounted for 11,392 connections made, well over our goal!
Switchboard and 10,000+ Strong Connections between July 1, 2015 and July 1, 2016
By the halfway point of the 10,000 Strong Connections project, I started to realize that with some informed data-digging, we could easily get to 10,000 connections simply via Switchboard. After looking into all the activity around Ask Me Anything week, I started to figure out exactly how we could define quality interactions with Switchboard posts and users. Here’s how we analyzed the year’s Switchboard activity and met and exceed our project goal simply with this platform.
I was able to narrow the scope of my questions by looking at the various tagged URLs to see where visitors arrived from
I calculated 8,481 visits from the weekly digest email. This is a targeted email prompt saying “These are posts! Come read!” and recipients actually clicking on those prompts, which took them to Switchboard. I reached this by seeking out URLs tagged with “?source=weekly_digest”.
There were 992 different posts visited via the daily or weekly digest emails. There were a total of 863 posts made this year (the total since the start of Switchboard: 1768). I reached this by seeking out URLs tagged simply with “digest” (this encapsulates both the daily and weekly digest).
401 visits were prompted by the comment email prompt and this happened on 255 different posts. 70 of these visits spent quality time (more than 25 seconds spent) with these pages. I reached this by seeking out URLs tagged with “?comment_id”.
Messages are the backbone of Switchboard communication. I hand-tabulated via the Switchboard analytics dashboard for a total of 1677 messages sent with 1303 opened messages (this second number is based on seeking out URLs that included “/conversation”). 65% (850) of those message reader/writers spent quality time (longer than 25 seconds) on a conversation (I sorted the long list of data from Google analytics then looked at the breakpoint of 25 seconds spent on the page). We can see that 50% (651) spent time on conversations that began from a specific Switchboard post (for this data point, I searched for “?pid=” in the URL, since this indicates that a message originated with a specific post). The average time spend on writing and reading conversations is 2 minutes. The monthly average of messages exchanged was 140; the highest months of message exchanges were in April (AMA Week + residual - 341 messages) and May (pre-graduation seeking of jobs and housing and in search of rides to and from Commencement/Reunion Weekend - 285 messages).
For visitors visiting the site to do a search, the two biggest search items are jobs and internships (685 visits from 495 users) and housing (304 visits from 207 users).
So! The final number of informed connections made on Switchboard this past year is the sum of targeted visits + number of posts made on Switchboard + number of people who spent quality time on a post to add to the conversation/further inform themselves + number of messages sent and received) since July 1. And… the grand total is (drumroll please): 12,414 connections.
While the 10,000 Strong Connections campaign has wrapped up, the connections continue in so many ways! The Career Committee (email@example.com) would love to hear from anyone regarding Switchboard, mentorship, and other ideas for connecting Obies with each other around career topics.