After a change in the policy of Wesconnect, the University’s online alumni network, members of the junior and senior classes are now allowed access to the site, which will give them admission to a detailed directory and list of events for students and alumni.
“Wesconnect aids students in making connections by exposing them to the alumni world, particularly with news and features that are presented in Wesconnect, in addition to the alumni directory, which gives students an opportunity to search for alumni based on a multitude of categories,” wrote Assistant Director of Alumni and Parent Programs Greg Bernard in an email to The Argus.
Wesconnect was created as part of an attempt to create an online space for University alumni to share information, news, and accomplishments. The website includes videos and articles showcasing different alumni as well as links to Wesconnect’s Facebook page and various alumni Twitter accounts.
“We have expanded Wesconnect into Facebook and Twitter, and will soon be stepping up our presence on LinkedIn,” wrote Director of Alumni and Parent Engagement Meg Zocco in an email to The Argus. “We have also launched a weekly newsletter called NOW on Wesconnect, to keep alumni, student members, and parents apprised of the latest Wesconnect updates, which [include] upcoming event information, alumni in the news, and recent accomplishments, and other features.”
Wesconnect is replacing the old Wesleyan Career Advisor Network (WesCAN) alumni networking system and features new and updated abilities.
“Networking abilities will be similar to what was available in WesCAN, which is in the process of being retired, and we have integrated functionality such that juniors and seniors can now sign up directly and access information and features that are available to alumni members,” Zocco wrote. “Wesconnect is optimized for searching individuals, whereas WesCAN didn’t allow for name based searching.”
By opening the program to current students, Wesconnect administrators hope to expand the reach of the group and introduce students to the concept of an alumni network sooner.
“Students will become alumni in a relatively short period of time, and being familiar with the alumni site in advance will enhance the likelihood of return use, and [we hope that people know that it’s the place] to go for pretty much any info an alumnus may need, or where students go to get info about alumni,” Bernard wrote.
The website will raise awareness about alumni events, and site administrators hope that it will increase attendance at those events.
“Wesconnect offers students access to learn who is signed up to attend various alumni events, to which students are always welcome and often attend during breaks,” Zocco wrote.
Bernard also spoke to the goal of encouraging students to attend alumni events.
“Juniors and seniors, [once they] sign up, will receive Wesconnect e-mail updates about upcoming local, national, and international events,” Bernard wrote. “This raises student awareness about the types of events, seminars, and other programs that Wesleyan offers alumni. Also, students can register for and attend events in their respective areas during school breaks, giving them exposure to alumni and parents for networking opportunities.”
The website includes a list of ways for alumni to get involved, including joining the Wesleyan Alumni Admission Volunteers (WAAV) program, volunteering for job shadowing over Winter Break, and donating to the Wesleyan Fund. Access to Wesconnect is being offered to students gradually, beginning with juniors and seniors. Access will eventually spread to the rest of the University.
“At this time, [Wesconnect] has only been opened to juniors and seniors to see how effective it will be, as well as to see how support requests may increase as a result of the influx of new members,” Bernard wrote. “We want to make sure we are able to adequately support all new and existing members in a timely fashion. The rest of the student body will be given access in early spring.”
The decision to include juniors and seniors has been met with several different reactions from University students. Some have described the network as overly complicated.
“I haven’t really explored it, but I’ve heard that it’s kind of confusing and it’s very limited by being only for juniors and seniors but not for freshmen and sophomores,” said Asher Lipsett ’14.
However, others have felt more positively about Wesconnect’s future.
“I think that including juniors and seniors on Wesconnect could be beneficial and definitely couldn’t hurt,” said Syed Ali ’13. “I think one of the benefits of Wesconnect is the fact that students can make connections to alumni in areas that they’re interested in.”
Wesconnect administrators have said that student input was mostly positive.
“Juniors and seniors…are generally more likely to utilize the networking capabilities to explore career interests and opportunities,” Zocco wrote. “Our experience with juniors and seniors has been very positive.”
Bernard encouraged students to sign up to connect with alumni and to send the website administrators their reactions or potential ideas relating to improvement of the site.
“We are always looking to improve on the site, so feel free to send feedback to our support team,” Bernard wrote.