Appetizers. Mingling. Exploring a professional environment in a more relaxed, after-hours setting. A recent Student Alumni Association event at Meredith Corporation introduced students and local professionals over hors d’oeuvres — and proved networking doesn’t have to be intimidating.
“This was my first networking event and it was great to see alumni from a variety of industries and areas of Des Moines,” said Lydia Metzger, a senior advertising account management and graphic design major. “The alumni I talked to gave me advice on what I should be doing as I graduate college and continuing my job search. They seemed eager to help by connecting me with other people they knew in the advertising industry.”
Drake University has a long tradition of recognizing current students as future alumni.
The new Student Alumni Association (SAA) is a refocused effort that connects students with alumni and builds on the groundwork laid by previous organizations such as the Drake University Student Alumni Association (DUSAA) and Future Alumni Network (FAN).
“We took a year to give some in-depth thought to how we could create an organization that would be sustainable and student-driven,” says Jonathan Brendemuehl, JO’08, GR’10, assistant director of Alumni and Parent Relations and adviser to the group.
In the fall of 2009, The Office of Alumni and Parent Programs hired six student alumni ambassadors to form the SAA and tasked the group with creating the kinds of events and programming that both connects students and alumni and promotes school spirit.
“The goal of all of the SAA programming is to make Drake alumni more accessible and visible to students,” says SAA ambassador Amelia Mieth, a senior education major from Crystal Lake, Ill. “Seeing how much passion our alumni have for the University is an amazing experience. I’m confident we’ve been successful.”
Mieth said engagement is more important than the number of registered members, but that with close to 200 participants, the SAA is currently the largest student organization on campus.
Annual dues are $25, and include an SAA T-shirt and a commemorative glass, plus admission and the inside scoop on events held throughout the year, including:
• A fall networking dinner that pairs alumni and students with a similar career focus
• A “Beat Shirt” to wear to the Creighton game
• Study break events in which any SAA member could stop into the Drake West Village Starbucks for a free drink
• Philanthropy week events
• Reviving the “Hubbelling” sledding tradition of using cafeteria trays to slide through snow, as shown in this photo gallery
“I think we’ve seen a major shift for students and an understanding for what the alumni office does,” Brendemuehl says. “We want them to understand that this is a lifetime relationship they’re going to have with their University.”