Focus on Young Alums

April 1, 2007
Words from the wise: Lessons on etiquette during Career Week break-out sessions

Words from the wise: Lessons on etiquette during Career Week break-out sessions. Les Todd

This past summer and fall the Duke Alumni Association reached out to young alumni through a series of focus groups aimed at determining their needs and expectations. The groups met in six cities: Boston, New York, Washington, Seattle, Raleigh, and Durham/Chapel Hill. The focus groups comprised two members of each graduating class from 1997 to 2006, all selected at random. Participants were invited to voice concerns and make suggestions about the services the DAA offers to young alumni.

The results of those focus groups are beginning to be seen in new programming offered by the DAA, especially to young alumni moving to new cities.

This fall, the DAA plans to host “welcome parties” for recent graduates in cities such as Boston and New York that attract many young graduates. Other Duke clubs are encouraged to plan their own local events. The idea is modeled after the “send-off parties” given over the summer for incoming Duke students.

Words from the wise: Students absorb tips for professional success

Words from the wise: Students absorb tips for professional success. Les Todd

“Students have no way of knowing who else lives in these cities unless it’s their group of friends,” says Kim Hanauer ’02, director of student and young alumni programs. “This is a way for them to connect with Duke and, at the same time, with older alumni for business and social networking and just to get acquainted with the city.” In addition, this summer, the DAA will begin testing a variety of welcome packages, ranging from an e-mail message from the local club to a DAA-sponsored book designed as a kind of Zagat’s guide to the city, including restaurant recommendations and other information about the city, as well as local Duke resources. Surveys will be used to determine which approaches are the most effective; those will be offered nationwide.

Emma Boa-Durgammah ’05, who participated in the New York focus group, says that her employer helped her get oriented in the city but that services provided by Duke could have helped her earlier in the process and provided more continuity in the transition from school to work.

Other new programming in the works includes information sessions targeted toward young alumni applying to graduate schools and toward those buying homes, investing, saving for their children, and starting their own businesses. Jay Barry ’03, who participated in the Washington group, says he thinks these activities are a good move forward in the effort to engage recent graduates. “I think it’s going to be really helpful for the alumni.”

For more information about young alumni programs, contact Kim Hanauer at kim.hanauer@daa.duke.edu or (919) 684-2766.