New platform aims to connect Broncos across the board
THE SANTA CLARA
January 19, 2017
A new jewel has been added to the crown of Silicon Valley.
Launched by the Santa Clara Alumni Association, Switchboard is an online platform that allows the Santa Clara community to connect easily based on what is important to them. It allows users to do two things—ask for what they want or offer what they have to give.
The platform is open to students, alumni, staff, faculty, parents and friends of the university.
“Switchboard is simple to use,” said Kathy Kale, assistant vice president of Alumni Relations. “We’re excited that this tool enables the Santa Clara community to connect in a new and more direct way.”
Switchboard users can ask for or offer a variety of goods and services. Individuals have posted asks and offers for job and internship opportunities, informational interviews, alumni advice, housing and various goods. It is also searchable by category, affiliation and keywords. Users can comment on posts or message other posters directly and can enable push or email notifications around the kinds of posts that interest them.
“We’ve seen several recent grads post about how they’ve moved to a new place upon graduation and are looking for connections around housing, jobs and friendships,” said Megan Bradley, assistant director of social media and career networking for Alumni Relations. “We’re seeing alumni help them out with these needs.”
While Switchboard has been compared to other platforms like LinkedIn and Craigslist, it has a special advantage over these alternatives because of its Bronco base and fairly informal nature.
“You’ll see many of the asks and offers are written almost like a postcard to a friend,” Bradley said.
Those who led the charge to develop Switchboard said they wanted a simple way for individuals to quickly and easily access the entire Santa Clara network. To gain access, all users must be verified in the database by affiliation to Santa Clara.
“We have a robust network within the Santa Clara community that extends well beyond the edges of campus,” Bradley said. “If you include students, alumni, faculty, staff, parents and friends of the University, there are well over 100,000 people in the Bronco community.”
According to Bradley, Switchboard has been well-received on campus and within the alumni network. Over 500 people, mainly alumni and students, have signed up for the platform. There have been nearly 100 asks and offers posted, and over 400 connections made.
“As an alumna, I’m excited (with) how Switchboard helps me not only connect with fellow alumni, but also with current students and members of the greater Santa Clara community,” said Jeanne-Marie Carr, an alumnus from the class of 1986. “While I graduated 30 years ago and live five hours away, this platform is one of the ways I still keep (Santa Clara) close and a big part of my life today.”
The university began researching the potential usefulness of a platform like Switchboard in 2015. They consulted 16 other schools across the country who have a similar platform and affirmed that it would be a good tool to implement at Santa Clara.
They signed on with Switchboard in the summer of 2016, and had a seeding phase before their soft launch in Nov. 2016.
The platform’s representatives have had meetings with all academic departments and centers, and are now shifting their focus to educating student groups about Switchboard over the next two quarters.
“We have a vested interest in growing the user base because the more people we get on Switchboard, the more useful the platform is to Broncos,” Bradley said. “We’re keeping growth a top priority.”
Contact Krista Clawson at kclawson@ scu.edu or call (408) 554-4852.