The Alumni Sharing Knowledge (ASK) Network has been providing valuable opportunities since the ‘90s for DePaul students to make professional connections with alumni, who volunteer in the program as mentors. ASK, operated out of EMM’s Career Center, has come a long way since its inception, evolving from a manual service of matching mentors and mentees to a robust online network that facilitates hundreds of connections and interactions between students and alumni.
“Mentorship is not about getting someone to find you a job. It’s about connecting with someone who can support your goals and dreams,” says Leslie Chamberlain, associate director of alumni career services in the Career Center, who manages the ASK program. “A mentor can have a huge impact on a student’s educational and career journey. Many students report having a mentor as one of the contributing factors to their success.”
In October 2017, the Career Center relaunched ASK on depaulasknetwork.com
, a new and improved online platform powered by PeopleGrove. It offers several features that make the connection process easier. Students can connect with a mentor in one of three ways: request a longer-term mentorship, request a meeting or simply send a message. Introductory message templates help guide the interactions for students, including tips and feedback on what to say based on the reason for the contact request. Students can also indicate mentorship needs based on culture and identity groups, such as being a first-generation student or part of the LGBTQA community.
Other features include:
- The ability to sync profiles with LinkedIn and receive recommendations on who to connect with based on information provided.
- Video chat and online call capabilities, so users do not have to share personal contact information if they are not comfortable doing so.
- Discussion boards where users can post questions and engage in topics of interest.
- The ability to link to Google and Outlook calendars, making scheduling easier.
Another important aspect of the new platform is the Career Center’s ability to better track and manage user requests and interactions. The Career Center approves all mentor sign-up requests, tracks mentor-student interactions to ensure high response rates, and follows up with mentors who appear to be inactive for extended periods. Faculty and staff can also join the network as mentors or mentees, as can non-DePaul mentor volunteers, per the Career Center’s approval process.
“We want to make sure that mentors are engaged and have something to offer, and that students are receiving the responses they need,” says Chamberlain. “Being able to track all this information helps us maintain the integrity and quality of the program. We want students to get the most out of this experience, and we want alumni to feel valued and appreciated as well.”
As of January 2018, there were 842 alumni mentors and 882 students in the ASK network. In the first six weeks after the new platform launched, students sent 366 requests to mentors.
For more information about the program, contact Leslie Chamberlain
, associate director in the Career Center. To join the network, visit depaulasknetwork.com