Why should you start an Alumni Group?
As students finish college and begin pursuit of a career or post-graduate training, it becomes more difficult for squad members to stay in touch. The close group of people who worked weekly shifts often find themselves in distant cities, working towards completely different career paths.
Through creation of an alumni organization and maintenance of accurate alumni records, helping these squad members stay in contact becomes timely and accessible. Helping alumni members stay in touch with each other promotes the discussion of collegiate EMS memories, which ultimately keeps alumni interested and invested in current squad operations and activities.
Connecting Alumni with Students:
While most undergraduate members are busy running EMS calls and studying for exams, there is always a high level of concern regarding summer internships/employment and post-graduation arrangements. Students often have an array of questions regarding applications, interviews, housing and other areas that relate to the development of summer or post-graduate plans in a new city or environment.
Alumni can serve as a valuable resource to students who are attempting to sort out such career development plans. Many alumni end up moving away from their undergraduate institutions and also pursue career paths entirely separate from collegiate EMS. Connecting students with alumni who are working or living in a similar environment will ultimately keep alumni involved with collegiate EMS and will also benefit current members.
Connecting Alumni with the Squad:
Alumni know and understand how collegiate EMS operates and functions in the context of an undergraduate institution. They have had numerous patient interactions, have sat through dozens of training meetings, and have attended many special collegiate events and activities.
Given this knowledge, most alumni know a lot about how your squad operates on a daily and weekly basis. Alumni members can often provide insight into how to approach the operation and organization of a campus event or how to interact with institutional oversight. Many of the problems facing your current organization, such as funding or staffing, have been addressed by alumni in previous years. Furthermore, alumni can also provide a broad range of training advice regarding topic selection, implementation and presentation.
Begin with an Alumni Database!
The most important aspect in the creation of an alumni organization is the maintenance of current contact information. Having up-to-date contact information will significantly ease communications between your organization and the alumni.
Key information to collect includes:
Name (Last, First)
Current Phone Number (Cell/Work/Home)
Additional information to consider collecting includes:
Date of Birth
Collegiate EMS Leadership Positions
Maintain the Alumni Database!
Keeping record of the above information is useless if it ultimately becomes outdated. Therefore, it is crucial to contact alumni on an annual basis to ensure that all information is current. In many cases, e-mailing will not be enough to ensure updated information and a quick phone call is required. Given the tedious nature of this task, it is therefore helpful for many organizations to elect a member to fill the role of Alumni Coordinator.
But wait! There are some additional options…
- Facebook – allows for the creation of groups, with the ability to send out group updates and notifications with relative ease. However, many alumni may not have a Facebook account, preventing the inclusion of all members.
- LinkedIn – allows for the creation of personalized profiles and serves as a professional career development platform for alumni and recent graduates. However, many alumni may not have a profile and will be hesitant to join an additional networking site.
- NCEMSF Website – the new website allows for the creation of groups in a similar format to Facebook. Members can maintain an up-to-date profile with NCEMSF that can then be associated with an undergraduate organization. Group e-mails and notifications can also be sent. However, while NCEMSF attempts to regularly contact alumni, the information may become outdated.
What should you offer to your Alumni?
Now that you have a list of alumni with accurate contact information, it is important to keep the group interested and involved with the collegiate EMS squad. There are numerous ways to reach out to alumni. Some of the more common methods are outlined below:
- Alumni Newsletter – an annual (or biannual) newsletter should be sent to all alumni on file with updates regarding squad events, operations, and call statistics. A newsletter is a relatively simple way to keep alumni aware of the overall status of an organization. Newsletters can also serve as a friendly reminder to attend collegiate EMS events and update contact information.
- Spring Barbeque/Picnic – most universities have a spring festival, when alumni return to campus for a weekend full of informational and social events. Holding a barbeque or picnic over this weekend is a great opportunity for alumni to meet current members.
- Winter Formal – many squads hold a winter (semi-) formal event, where members swap uniforms for suits/dresses for an evening of dinner and dancing. Inviting alumni to attend the event further encourages them to remain connected with the squad.
- Training Presentations – while alumni may work in numerous fields, many remain active in healthcare. These alumni can often provide training lectures and presentations on a wide variety of topics. Promotion of alumni teaching helps build professional relationships between students and alumni, while also encouraging alumni to maintain a strong connection with their undergraduate institution.
- Undergraduate Mentoring – pairing undergraduate students with alumni who can assist with questions regarding professional and career development benefits both students and alumni. Alumni are able to feel connected and included with current squad members (with relatively little effort), while undergraduates receive the experience and advice of alumni who have already encountered and dealt with the challenges of post-graduate life and career development.
- Donations/Funding – for many squads, funding for equipment or special events (like attending NCEMSF conferences) is limited. Even small donations, collected from a broad base of alumni, can provide some assistance in budget planning and purchases. Should you choose to contact alumni for donations, consider mentioning a specific fundraising goal, such as “Sending Students to Conference” or “Purchasing a New AED”.