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Diversity, equity official to leave GW in July
By Jenna Lee, Assistant News Editor • June 8, 2024

More than 1,600 alumni, students utilize career center’s virtual networking platform

The Industry Career Network, formerly called the Career Connect network, has expanded to include graduate students and now offers opportunities for alumni to connect with one another.

Nearly a year after its launch, GW’s online networking service boasts more than 1,300 alumni participants for students to turn to for career advice.

Rachel Brown, the associate vice provost for career services, said the Industry Career Network, formerly called the Career Connect network, expanded to include graduate students and now offers opportunities for alumni to connect with one another. Growing the network’s student base will help produce a core of alumni interested in offering their own advice once they graduate and make the platform more wide-reaching and effective, she said.

“As more students find value in the network, they will be the alumni that will provide guidance for future students,” she said in an email.

She said staff have focused on building connections between alumni and students since the platform launched almost a year ago. Students can sign up to be part of an industry network in their field and register for virtual networking events to message alumni and graduate students.

Staff also collected feedback through a rating system on the platform and from the Career Services Council, a group that oversees funding for the Center for Career Services, she said.

Students rated virtual meetings with alumni an average of 4.89, and alumni rated them 4.5 out of 5, Brown said. Alumni relations staff also facilitated connections between alumni and students by checking in on alumni to ensure they are responding to message requests from students, she said.

A group of 300 active undergraduates have sent more than 900 messages since the platform began, she said.

“The system allows us to better understand the interactions between students and alumni and look for ways to improve this experience,” she said in an email.

Brown said the network opened up to graduate students last year at the recommendation of the Career Services Council. More than 80 graduate students have given graduate school admissions advice to undergraduates so far, and they also have access to professional development opportunities with alumni in the network, she said.

She said the center will offer information sessions about the network to recruit more undergraduate students to the platform this semester.

“Our focus in the spring will be getting graduating seniors to engage on the network and take full advantage of alumni who want to help them in their post-graduation goals, whether that is a job or graduate school,” Brown said.

Asha Aravindakshan, the committee chair of the career services committee on the Independent Alumni Association of George Washington who helped develop the network, said she was surprised that the network was able to garner hundreds of users with only an email campaign.

She is no longer working on the platform, but Aravindakshan said leaders could invest in more marketing tactics to spread the word about different events and network opportunities. The approximately seven to eight minutes students spend with alumni in a chatroom can sometimes amount to more time than they would get at a crowded in-person networking event, she said.

“It’s a great way to meet alumni you would never meet,” she said. “You sharpen your mentorship skills.”

Beckah Restivo, who graduated from the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences with a bachelor’s degree in political science in 2010, said she signed up for a virtual networking event at the end of January with an alumni speaker who discussed how to become more marketable during a job search.

She said that because she is currently looking for a new job, the networking event caught her eye even though she does not typically participate in alumni events in her area.

“I don’t know if it’s something that’s going to benefit me, but it’s not too late to try one to see,” she said.

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