Kevin Andrew explores Alumni & Student Connections’ virtual services, impact on graduating seniors
By Thomas Kyle-Milward
Marketing & Communications
TACOMA, WASH. (April 21, 2020) — Worried about graduating into an uncertain job market? Need to hear some encouragement or advice from a PLU alum who’s been in your shoes before? Alumni & Student Connections has gone virtual to make sure resources to help you through those and related issues remain available despite remote learning and physical distancing mandates.
Kevin Andrew, PLU’s Director of Career, Learning and Engagement, is part of a Connections team that helps Lutes build their own career vision — then connects them to the opportunities, resources and people that can help make those dreams a reality.
We connected with Andrew to explore Alumni & Student Connections’ virtual services, the difference LuteLink can make for graduating seniors, and more.
PLU: What makes Alumni & Student Connections an important resource for students?
Andrew: The office of Alumni and Student Connections exists to support students and alumni — both now and after graduation. When you go to college, the goal is that you’re going to move on to graduate school, you’re gonna move on to employment, maybe moving on to the Peace Corps, whatever that is. But we’re always there to kind of help students and be a sounding board, a place for questions, a place for real practical help. We assist with a range of services, including career services, internships, student employment, vocation, lifelong learning and alumni connections.
PLU: With campus moving to remote learning, in what ways have your services become virtual?
Andrew: Our programming has always been focused on groups or one on one — in-person stuff. What was nice was that we knew we had in-person programming set up for spring, all we had to do was then switch it to virtual. For example, yesterday I hosted a webinar with two HR professionals from the state Office of Financial Management. We were hoping to do it in person, so it was just a matter of switching that conversation. The three of us were on a Zoom conference call and we promoted it to students, had students register and then join us for the conversation.
All of our services are now virtual. Students and alumni can schedule appointments with career and internship advisors via phone, email, or virtual using Google Hangouts and Zoom.
PLU: How is Alumni & Student Connections supporting seniors about to graduate into a COVID-19-impacted job market?
Andrew: This graduating year has presented unique challenges for the Class of 2020. During this time, with this anxiety and students hearing on the news that people aren’t at work and companies may not be hiring, it’s really important that graduating seniors know that PLU truly cares about the internships, jobs and careers they pursue after their time on campus. Being able to take advantage of an office like ours, where we talk through each student’s story, the paths they’re taking and help them reach those destinations — I think those are some really key, critical parts of post-college success.
Seniors, as well as all students and alumni, are invited to connect with advisors to discuss the current job market and how to connect with alumni; join us for virtual workshops on a range of topics throughout the spring semester and summer.
PLU: Why is LuteLink, and connecting professionally with PLU alumni, valuable to students?
Andrew: LuteLink is a valuable resource for all students, and is the university’s official online community where you can connect with PLU alumni to gain career support and perspective. As of today, there are 734 alumni with a profile on LuteLink. The most important thing that I stress to students is that you have immediate access to these 700 alums. You can email them directly, or talk with them virtually. What an amazing opportunity for you to start expanding your network and finding a mentor — or several mentors. We know that these are people that want to engage with our students and help them out.
PLU: What sort of feedback are you hearing from students who are using Alumni & Student Connections services right now?
Andrew: They have found it to be very helpful to have advisors available virtually to assist with questions related to career and internship. Students have appreciated that Alumni & Student Connections continues to be offering assistance remotely. In connection to LuteLink, students have commented on what a great resource it is during this time, and that it is easy to use and is very helpful in connecting with alumni. One student said that after reaching out to an alum through LuteLink, they had an extended exchange via email about foreign service.