Monday, 23 April 2012

Why we have made certain decisions

Those reading this blog will more than likely identify with the notion that regardless of how well you think you have anticipated risk or how well you think that you may have put together a project plan, things will not always run the way you had thought. This however is not necessarily a bad thing; it can help to shape the way that you make certain decisions. What may not have been a priority at first can quickly become so and it will probably not be to the detriment of your project. In fact, it can help push it forward a little.

This is something that we have learned with our project (and there will be a follow up post to discuss this further). In this blog post, I'd like to focus on why we have structured our Alumni Profile form in the way that we have.

A quick bit of background; We are in the process of going out to our alumni to ask them to complete our profile form. Alumni are asked a range of questions relating to;

  • The city of Glasgow
  • Their course
  • University life
  • Career experiences/path after Glasgow

Submitted profiles will form part of our Ask our Alumni service, where students can search a bank of profiles based on search criteria of;
  • Profession
  • Industry
  • Country
We are encouraging all of our alumni to become eMentors, so that by providing their LinkedIn url, students are able to contact them to ask for informal careers advice.

As you can see from the profile form, we decided as a project team to ask a lot of questions. We did so because we hope to use the information provided not only for the benefit of students, but also to use in university publications and promotional materials both printed and online. It's hoped that the positive messages and experiences of our alumni can assist the university in its domestic and international recruitment efforts. Alumni do not have to answer all of the questions but they are encouraged to do so.

We have deliberately structured the questions to map the journey from undergraduate, to graduation and then life beyond that to ensure that students, regardless of what year group they belong to can take away the information and guidance that is relevant or important to them at that time. What a student determines to be useful infomation when studying in year two can be very much different to a final year student.

As mentioned previously, we are in the process of identifying both domestic and international alumni to complete our profile form to build up a bank of profiles. We will pilot our student mini-site and search functionality with a small group of students and also follow the progress that they make contacting alumni for informal careers advice before full launch of the service.

Thanks for reading and if you have any questions, please do comment!



  1. To me this seems really promising.

    How will you analyse the results that come in, especially those open text boxes?

  2. Hi Peter,

    Thanks for replying!

    It will be quite straightforward to measure the results of this, particularly with the pilot group. We are able to meaure click through rates and conversion rates through NetCommunity. Once the profile is submitted, it is slightly clunky on our side in exporting the information into Raiser's Edge (this is a good example of utilising the systems that we have in place at the moment, rather than building something specific and also making the experience better for the user, rather than designing it to make our working processes easier), however, once that information is in there, it's easily exported and reportable.

    For example, yesterday we sent out 67 follow-up responses to alumni who attended recent events in Asia.

    33 opened the email
    12 clicked through to the profile form
    4 alumni started to fill out the form
    3 alumni completed it
    2 alumni provided a LinkedIn url and have become e-Mentors

    That gives a overall fulfilment rate of about 12%.

    The free text boxes will obviously be more difficult and subjective. There are obviously no 'correct' answers that an alumni can submit, but we obviously have in mind what we might consider a good profile response.

    We can however measure what questions are proving more successful in terms of generating responses than others and then look to measure this against feedback from students (asking them which sections they found the most useful information in).