Most students are probably familiar with LinkedIn, the popular professional networking service. This summer, USF’s Office of Alumni Engagement launched its own version: NetworkUSF. The network initially launched for alumni in June and incorporated current USF students this fall. The Dons community can use the platform for career advice, professional networking, and alumni connections. NetworkUSF also now hosts the alumni offices’ flagship alumni mentorship program, where current students and alumni can share a one-on-one relationship to foster academic and career goals.
With the help of the Department of Student Life, the Career Services Center, the Office of Marketing Communications, Information Technology Services (ITS), and the Black Achievement Success and Engagement (BASE) Initiative, the NetworkUSF team was able to execute an expedited rollout to offer the site to students. According to Director of Alumni Engagement Taryn Moore, “It was all hands on deck to get the platform launch at the start of summer.”
Moore said NetworkUSF’s goal is to “find meaningful ways to connect alumni and students wherever they are, both regionally and in their life stage.” By the end of NetworkUSF’s first year, they hope to have 20% of USF’s student population and 15% of alumni registered. Their long-term goal “is to use this tool to promote open dialogue between USF community members, serve as a place to find useful resources, and relevant news and upcoming events,” Moore said.
Students can create an account by merging their LinkedIn or myUSF accounts with NetworkUSF. They are then able to create a biography and share their hobbies, interests, passions, and affiliations with on-campus organizations in order to match them with others in the USF community who share similar interests. NetworkUSF can also be used to seek out advice for a number of situations such as applying to graduate or professional school, career planning, interview practice, and networking advice. Students can further personalize their account by selecting an industry they are interested in exploring and filtering by which cities they are interested in connecting with alumni in.
Upon profile completion, users are introduced to the Networking Hub, which Moore said, “is similar to a USF LinkedIn where students can find and message alumni for networking and advice.”
The hub presents users with different people based on their pre-selected interests, destinations, and career paths. By clicking on someone’s profile, a user can view a roadmap of a professional individuals’ educational career, internship history, and past and present work opportunities. Users can also send messages to one another and request meetings.
Speaking about their experience using NetworkUSF, senior English major Jady Ojiri said, “We have a vibrant community of people at USF who are more than willing to share their knowledge and experience to help a fellow Don. You get to see how interconnected the community is and how much everyone roots for each other. Even after people graduate, they never fully leave.”
The platform also offers alumni a streamlined way to interact with one another. “The NetworkUSF platform also offers many other opportunities to engage our alumni through affinity/identity groups, regional chapters, and industry groups,” Moore said. For example, there is the Black Alumni Society, New York Alumni, LGBTQ+ and Allies, or the Healthcare Industry Alumni.
A major feature of NetworkUSF is the formal alumni mentor program, which is in its seventh year of existence but in its first year of being housed on the platform. Moore described the program as “application-based and matches a current student with an alumna/us for a one-on-one mentorship relationship throughout the academic year.”
Mentor and mentee matches meet virtually at least once per month. The alumni mentor might share career advice, review their mentee’s resume/LinkedIn profile, conduct a mock interview, or introduce their mentee to their professional networks. The program is open to sophomores, juniors, seniors, and graduate students.
Ronnie Garcia ‘15, the director of athletics marketing for California State University, Northridge and a current mentor through Network USF, described his experience working with a USF student. “So far, we are setting goals for my mentee’s career. As we are just starting this, my mentee is asking about my experience related to my career and my experience attending the University of San Francisco’s Sport Management Program,” he said. “Many students reach out and ask about my career path and how I ended up as a Director in Athletics Marketing. They also seek guidance about succeeding in the industry.”
Garcia offered a piece of advice: “I always recommend networking. Networking is very important in every industry and I think the best way to network is by doing informative interviews. This is a good time for an informative interview because so many people are stuck inside.”
To sign up for NetworkUSF, visit www.network.usfca.edu.