Covid-19 is having a profound impact on all of us. The pandemic has brought enormous uncertainty for students and recent graduates – and for established alumni who may find themselves gravely impacted by the economic downturn.
Now, more than ever, the team at the UCD Alumni office are keen to help our alumni community to weather this unprecedented challenge. These alumni staffers, along with volunteers from the alumni community as well as colleagues from across the University, are committed to doing all they can to support you in addressing the difficulties presented by the crisis and to help you to plan for the future.
And one of the key ways of doing that is through the UCD Alumni Network – a free online platform to help alumni build new relationships with other former students and to reconnect with old classmates.
“Together, we are stronger,” says Ria Flom, Alumni Relations Coordinator. “While it might seem like there are fears around every corner, the UCD Alumni Network has great strength in depth. This difficult period has shown us that there is a rich resource in the connections we make and the relationships that exist within the wider UCD community.
“This community encompasses a whole world of professional contacts from diverse industries and subject areas – all of whom already have one thing in common – they are fellow alumni. And through our online platform, they can forge relationships and foster support communities.”
WHAT DOES ALUMNI MEAN ANYWAY?
You may not know this but anyone who has studied at UCD is officially part of the alumni community – whether they graduated from the University or not. If you have studied here at any point, we welcome you. So, if you’ve done a short course, an Erasmus scheme or even if you started here and finished your studies elsewhere, you are regarded as a UCD alumnus.
That community is vast: there are nearly 300,000 alumni working around the globe in every conceivable sector. There’s a wealth of knowledge and contacts easily accessible to you on the online UCD Alumni Network.
MAKING THE MOST OF YOUR UNIVERSITY EXPERIENCE
“The benefits of your connection to UCD do not end when you turn in that final assignment,” Ria says. “The power of the alumni community is greater than you might have expected.
“University can be expensive and we all know it’s hard work. Education is a great deal more than just the qualifications you receive at the end. It’s about the lessons you learn, the people you meet, and the relationships you build. So why would you expect to leave all of that behind once you have left UCD?
“Support networks are often hard to come by once you leave university,” Ria adds, “so having access to a ready-made one, full of people who are already part of this new community you now find yourself in, with shared experiences, waiting and willing to connect, is a luxury filled with opportunity.”
Right now, there are over 7,500 registered members – and 70 per cent of these alumni have indicated that they are happy to help students and fellow alumni, whether it’s in a mentoring capacity, offering advice or helping with contacts.
“Looking for a career mentor or seeking support as you navigate various stages of your career and personal life can sometimes seem like a daunting task,” Ria says, “but the online UCD Alumni Network can make that process so much easier. It’s a ready-made tool to help you reach out to those who may be able to help you during this pandemic.”
MAKING IT EASIER TO SUPPORT EACH OTHER
“UCD alumni can be found in leading roles in almost every industry all around the world,” Ria says, “so they are an invaluable resource for our students and recent graduates starting the next phase of their careers in these challenging times. Having this central place to connect virtually makes networking a little easier. It can open so many doors.”
A number of alumni who are active users of the online UCD Alumni Network say the resource is invaluable.
“My student life in UCD was amazing,” says one. “I learned and experienced so many new or interesting groups. It’s great now to have this online network where I can still network with current students and fellow alumni. You can advertise your business, find job opportunities and learn about upcoming events.”
Another alumnus is just as enthused: “I understand the value of mentorship and hope I can help others through my experience. I hope to maintain a connection with UCD as it played a significant role in shaping my life.”
LEVERAGING THE NETWORK TO SECURE EMPLOYMENT
Need to get a foot in the door for your next job, or curious about whether an organisation you are interested in is the right fit? The online UCD Alumni Network is the place to start.
“Reaching out online to fellow alumni and simply having a chat is a great first step,” Ria says. “Utilise our searchable online directory of alumni, join a group to keep up to date with your School, former society or assignment – the Alumni Network is a more powerful tool than you might expect.”
The mentoring section on the online UCD Alumni Network is especially useful. “It can help you to make contact with people who could help you learn more about an industry you are interested in,” she says. “It could lead to informal interviews, introductions or referrals. You can also keep up to date on in-person and virtual events and join interest groups.”
Ria Flom’s discussions with existing members demonstrate just how vibrant and useful the online UCD Alumni Network has already become. “Our members talk about the benefits and invaluable advantages to becoming a member of this network,” she says. “We look forward to meeting you there.”