For many university students, the college experience is a vehicle transporting them to their next phase of life. The most common goal for students is to have a career, and it is popular for students to reach out and connect with those they meet along the way, hoping that networking proves valuable on the road to success.
This process of networking is extremely valuable, and for some students it is the sole motivation for attending university – why else would so many students in the United States take on student loan debt? Realizing the value and potential of networking, the university has made it easier to tap into its 80,000+ alumni.
The UNO alumni association debuted Matrix to all students last Thursday. The virtual space, similar to LinkedIn, allows the user to receive assistance from UNO alumni, faculty and staff in networking, mentoring, as well as career advice.
The platform offers a directory and a job board. Developed in partnership with the company Graduway, a leading software provider, the job board consists of feeds directly from Handshake, worknola.com, and IBM, but also allows other users to post current employment and internship opportunities. The platform also comes with a mentorship feature. This feature allows the user to request a mentor from alumni in their desired field, who helps the user network within their company.
According to Francie Davenport, Assistant Director of Alumni Engagement, there was a soft launch of Matrix to alumni in November. As previously mentioned, the platform was opened up to students last week. As of press time, Davenport states there are 473 registered members, 64.9 percent of those who are willing to help network and/or mentor. The breakdown includes 340 alumni, 79 faculty/staff membersand 107 students. Davenport says the Matrix members are growing everyday.
“Today, our job board has 1,438 job and internship opportunities. Our users can post open jobs at their companies. [There] is a wide variety of positions, from some that students could work while in school to senior-level career positions,” she states.
When asked what this platform will cost students, the administrator says it’s free to all users. “There is an annual fee for the platform, and the Office of Alumni Affairs pays that out of our budget. There is no cost to any user. We are expanding every day. We’ll be doing more outreach to alumni to get more of them registered on the site, and I have a communications plan beginning next month to send helpful tips, updates, and other information on a weekly basis to encourage more interaction. The site is still in its infancy, but we expect it to grow exponentially and become the go-to place for students and alumni to interact with each other to prepare for and further their careers.”
As helpful as Matrix may be, people like William B. Jones of the Saint of a Saint organization, a nonprofit that connects fatherless boys to mentorship appointees don’t necessarily think that virtual networking is the best way to make career connections.
“An app definitely helps with the organizational piece of connecting mentors with mentees, but I don’t think it’s all someone needs to be involved in the community or to find employment. There are several opportunities to touch the next generation, whether it’s volunteering your time at a local school or even at a shelter. The use of an app is relevant with today’s young people, but meaningful face-to-face conversations help build long-term relationships, which ultimately can lead to a job,” he states.
Perhaps a mix of the real world and the Matrix will help UNO students achieve their long term career goals.
For more information on the Matrix app, visit unomatrix.com. For students interested in volunteering with Son of Saint, more information is available at http://sonofasaint.org/join/. There are opportunities for individuals to serve as volunteers, tutors, and drivers.
Note: Driftwood staff contributed to this report.
The best helping hand…in the palm of your hand. Photo by Josh Riemer on Unsplash