SimpsonConnect to bring alumni and students together

by Jessalyn Holdcraft

SimpsonConnect is the newest portal set to open for students.

“SimpsonConnect is a web portal designed to provide Career Services with an extended network of companies and individuals, or connections, who are interested in supporting our students through job shadow, internship, mentor and job opportunities,” Director of Career Services Jennifer del Pino said.

“It’s a network of friends to the college such as trustees and alumni,” said Joe Sorensen, senior and student body president. “We’re trying to develop this network system, so that when students go for internships and job opportunities, they can use this tool once they’re ready to find out who likes Simpson and who’s really interested in Simpson students. Hopefully, we can get more jobs out of that.”

This idea has been years in the making.

“This portal was developed after discussions with a trustee who has worked for several years to find a way to map trustee ‘assets’, or connections, in order to provide increased opportunities to Simpson students,” del Pino said.

Career Services is currently working with 247 Toolset to run the portal which is in its beta testing phase. The next phase will include incorporating alumni into the network.

“Once we have the SimpsonConnect populated, then we will have students join just to access those references,” del Pino said. “It will be for students; however, you will not have direct access to the trustees and alums. You will need to go through Career Services.”

Students will be able to access SimpsonConnect in the spring of 2013 at the latest.

“There’s going to be a button that students will be allowed to click, so it’s like a shopping cart of reference requests,” Internship Coordinator Sara Clayton said. “Basically, you can go and pick one or two folks that sounds like you would want to get connected with them.”

The profiles of trustees and alumni will be anonymous to students. In order to figure out who a certain profile belongs to, students will have to go to Career Services.

“We’ll have you fill out and submit a brief little form with your name, contact information,” Clayton said. “This is so we can make sure we’re making connections for students and our partners without overwhelming the partners with a lot of communication. It helps students out too to make sure they’re getting the right people.”

Simpson already has one job and internship centered portal for campus; however, CareerPaths and SimpsonConnect will be different.

“SimpsonConnect is really an online directory of trustees, alumni and partners we know we can call on and connect students with as kind of a networking directory,” Clayton said. “CareerPaths is more specifically for listing actual opportunities and having those actual internships and job listings on there.”

Though both SimpsonConnect and CareerPaths will involve jobs and internships, SimpsonConnect will not replace CareerPaths.

“We’re going to encourage members of SimpsonConnect to post those internships, jobs on CareerPaths,” Clayton said. “We’re hoping that may increase the employer usage and opportunities that are posted on CareerPaths.”

SimpsonConnect shares similarities with another site: LinkedIn.

“LinkedIn is a great tool and probably the best professional social networking resource that students can use,” Clayton said. “Something that LinkedIn does really well is clarifying or illuminating who is your extended network that you may not know about yet on a personal level. SimpsonConnect, similarly, does that but more so as an institution, so it helps students figure out who Simpson is connected to, who are some contacts who are Simpson-friendly, and who are Simpson supporters.”

The networking feature of SimpsonConnect may add extra opportunities and responsibilities to students when it comes to setting up internships and jobs.

“I think it’s always good for us to have a resource like this where students can be proactive and reaching out,” Clayton said. “I think it facilitates that networking aspect which even adults who have been in their profession for a long time struggle with. I think SimpsonConnect will be great because we’ll have an idea of who we know, who’s in our network for our students, and how can we connect those students with those folks.”

Making connections with Simpson supporters is the main goal of SimpsonConnect.

“The analogy I’ve been using is Simpson students who are ready for a good internship, we want them to go from number 99 in line to go to number one,” Sorensen said. “I think the best way to do that is by networking.”