A FEW WORDS ABOUT THE RELATIONSHIPS WITH GRADUATES
Students, being at the same time the consumers of educational services, undoubtedly belong to the group of key stakeholders of the university. It seems reasonable to regard the relationships with them as a sort of continuum on which studying is a relatively short stage. It is the challenge for the university to ensure that receiving a diploma does not turn out to be the last contact with it, and that the offer addressed at graduates encourages them to actively engage in the life of the academic community and provides support in further development. It is worth doing for many reasons, bearing in mind, among others, the fact that with the increasingly obvious necessity of lifelong learning, the study stage - at different levels and in different modes - may occur even several times.
EVERYTHING BEGINS DURING STUDIES
Building a relationship with a graduate begins at the study stage. A student’s experience gained at a university (analogously to customer experience) will decide on whether and to what extent a student will be inclined to stay in contact with the university after graduation The high quality of educational offers and also the quality of service will affect the graduate’s willingness to maintain contact with the university as well as the graduate’s decision to re-use an educational offer of the university or recommend it to others.
One of the foundations for building a partner relationship - and this type of model would probably be the most desired one among graduates - is to remain in a dialogue that includes passing on information, listening to the other party, and managing the emerging expectations. Within the activities of the Career and Alumni Centre, we try to create and implement initiatives that provide support in professional development and give an opportunity for dialogue and cooperation between the university and its former and current students.
GRADUATES FOR STUDENTS
An example of activities combining the abovementioned goals is the SGH Mentoring Programme, whose second edition will end in June 2019. As part of it, graduates share their knowledge and experience with students. In turn, the university provides graduates participating in the programme with substantive care and support in developing mentoring competences. The programme is also an opportunity to integrate graduates of various fields, years and types of studies, but also makes it possible for groups of students and graduates to get to know each other better. The joint meeting of mentors and mentees in the middle of the programme had a very positive response among participants who expressed their willingness and hope to experience events of the indicated type more frequently.
Moreover, graduates share their experience through their stories published either in the Gazeta SGH magazine (‘Graduates’ section) or in the Poradnik Kariery (Career Guide) addressed at students. The 2018/2019 edition of the Guide included ‘Inspiracje absolwenckie’ (Graduate inspirations) section, which presented the professional paths of several graduates who were successful in various fields of professional activity - in corporations, in their own business, in education – as well as their thoughts on broadly understood career and development. Perhaps their stories will interest current students and help them make their own career choices - in today's dynamically changing, complex and ambiguous world they will have to be made many times.
UNIVERSITY FOR GRADUATES
One of the desired and already mentioned actions for the benefit of graduates is to support them in their further professional career. In the era of the fourth industrial revolution, associated with the intensive development of new technologies and artificial intelligence, in addition to the so-called STEM competencies (science, technology, engineering, math) soft competences may be particularly important for employees of the future, such as the ability to share knowledge, cooperate with other people, negotiation skills (see: Infuture Hatalska Foresight Institute report Pracownik Przyszłości (Future Worker) of April 2019). Short workshop forms proposed as part of the Alumni Club provide an opportunity to recognise and develop the indicated skills. This year workshops were devoted to planning and achieving goals (February), public speaking (March) and managerial effectiveness (April; workshops led by an SGH graduate). They were appreciated by the participants who above all valued their practical side.
The graduate shall not live by development alone, and the formation of a community is facilitated by less formal meetings, such as visiting the SGH campus. During studies, a young man is mostly absorbed in completely different matters than admiring architectural solutions or reading in the biographies of the founders of the university. As part of this year's Day of SGH Warsaw School of Economics, graduates could rediscover the campus during a specially organised walk ‘SGH, which you do not know’. Come backs to the university, either after a long or short time, were made with curiosity and sentiment.
Our university graduates are awarded with a diploma that increases their chances for a good job and good pay at the beginning of their careers. However, their professional path and achieved successes will not only affect their personal situation and success, but will also contribute to the growth of prestige and good reputation of SGH. The achievements of graduates and school evaluation are taken into account both in the accreditations for which the university is applying and in the rankings in which it participates.
Currently, when competition in the market of higher education is taking place not only on a national or even regional scale, but is gaining a global dimension, it is also important to present the successes of those graduates who have decided to develop their professional careers abroad and have been successful in this field. The financing obtained from the NAWA International Alumni programme will be helpful in this matter as we will be allowed to have a better access to graduates and will provide support in maintaining relationships, which in turn may contribute to building our university brand in cooperation with them abroad.
JUSTYNA KOZERA, the director of the Career and Alumni Centre
The Career and Alumni Centre is the unit responsible for shaping and maintaining relationships with SGH graduates. It also deals with supporting the development of the career of SGH students and graduates as well as the development of cooperation between members of the two indicated groups.