I recently had a chance to meet with our Alumni Association Board at its annual retreat. Meetings are not an unusual occurrence for someone in my position. As director of Marketing, I often have to sit down with various individuals, groups, committees and organizations on campus. In fact, I sometimes think I spend more times in meetings than anything else I am involved with at the University. But it’s the nature of the position.
And, honestly, most of the time these meetings focus on what I – or my office – can do for them. Maybe it’s a brochure. Or a press release. Or a web site change. Or a photo. And that’s fine. Besides, that’s what we’re here for – to serve, promote, support and advance the University.
Towards the end of my update to our alumni board, President Michael Lane had one final question for me, and one that I don’t get asked very often. He said, “What can we as alumni do for you?”
Hmmm. That threw me for a bit of a loop. I didn’t have much time to ponder that question, but I came up with the best answer I had at the moment: to be an “ambassador” for your alma mater. Our graduates can represent the brand of Siena Heights to everyone they meet. That made sense. After all, that’s what someone in marketing is supposed to say, right?
However, that question lingered beyond that meeting as I thought a little more about some possible alternative answers. Just what can alumni do for me? That led me to an even better question: what can they do for Siena Heights University?
My office is fortunate to host several student interns and additional work study students throughout the academic year. While many of our interns come to us with a special purpose or career aspiration in mind, such as graphic design or writing, others just show up looking for a resume-building opportunity.
As the office that helped develop and implement the “Opportunity U” brand, how can we not oblige? What we have discovered, however, is that these experiences are not just one-way opportunities.
In fact, one of the “perks” of being in a university environment is the interaction with the students. They not only keep you young (at least at heart), but they provide a long-forgotten perspective on life. We find ourselves engaging our students not only on a professional level, but a personal one. They become one of “ours.”
A common thread for these students is their drive to succeed. Some come from challenging backgrounds, others not so much. But they all have goals and dreams. Let me share some of our students with you:
Brittney Rhodes, a senior who has become a fixture in the marketing office the past two years, wants to work in college athletic marketing. As we have found out, if you give her a task, it gets done well and usually way ahead of deadline. As an academic All-American softball player, Brittney rarely has to be told anything twice. She will be missed.
Kaitlin Ludwig came to us more than three years ago as we were entering the arena of social media. She quickly showed us why she was a 4.0 student. She helped us build our network in Facebook, and her reliability is unquestioned. Kaitlin is now completing a (paid) internship in Boston before beginning her new job.
A trio of second-semester seniors joined us in January, and all three have made a quick impact on our office:
Lyndsay Payne you have probably seen in this magazine quite often as a standout cross country and track athlete. She is also an accomplished graphic designer who is as polite as they come. She is hoping to get a design job somewhere where the weather is a bit warmer than Michigan. My guess is she won’t have much trouble.
Kyle Armstrong came to our office as an accomplished English student who was looking for a little career guidance. Two months into his writing internship, he is now working as a part-time sports writer for the local newspaper. And he throws a wicked shot put and discus, too.
Barbara Crosby entered my office last fall interested in an internship in the marketing office because “I want to work with people.” Her outgoing personality has worked well as our student photographer and marketing assistant, and hopefully those skills will help her achieve her people-centered goals.
Austin Harper just wanted to write. She volunteered her services to my office a year ago, and last fall interned as a feature writer. Although she switched majors from English to more of a business focus, she is not far off from working as a newspaper or magazine feature writer right now.
Two non-traditional students, Michelle Blackerby and Jay Nicols, also impacted our office in different ways. Michelle juggled children and a full class load and still found time to complete a writing internship. Jay showed up at our doorstep a couple of years ago because he heard we needed some help with video editing. A self-taught videographer and editor, he quickly became an invaluable addition to not only our office, but in athletics as well. As producer of the Siena Heights Sports Network, I can honestly say SHSN would not exist without his efforts.
Finally, throw in our two work study students who played the role of Halo the Husky, the university’s lovable mascot. Logan Poskarbiewicz and Gerald Richardson grew into their roles as the academic year progressed, and helped establish Halo as a campus favorite.
Whew. That’s quite a list. And the impact they have on our marketing efforts is meaningful and profound. If they serve as a cross section of the kind of student Siena Heights produces, we have a very bright future indeed.