By Laura Toraldo
(May 9, 2017—UPPER MARLBORO, Md.) They say great opportunities don’t come every day—but for University of Maryland-University College students and alumni, those opportunities happen more often than most.
With over 200,000 alumni worldwide and a wealth of experience in a variety of careers, UMUC wanted to engage this network with new entrepreneurs and graduating students.
“We have so many alumni at different points in their careers,” said Jennifer Tomasovic, UMUC’s director of communications. “We have career transitioners, alumni that are well established and looking for opportunities to expand, and we have new entrepreneurs looking to get tips and feedback.”
The opportunity to facilitate valuable connections was evident. Last week, they made it happen.
Via a platform called Brazen, alumni and students were invited to login and join a live discussion for a LinkUP with UMUC Entrepreneurs virtual event. It allowed participants to be part of a main conversation–think of a keynote address–as well as targeted discussion booths devoted to six entrepreneurial focused topics: getting and giving advice, taking the leap, building your startup team, marketing for entrepreneurs, raising capital, and social entrepreneurship.
“Often on social platforms, you need to wait for responses that don’t always come through,” Tomasovic said. “This was the opportunity for real time conversations.”
Tomasovic explained that participants could also connect one on one via a private chat opt in.
“It’s organic peer-to-peer conversations,” she said. “If you do connect, you have the option to take that conversation outside of that one hour and develop it.”
Tomasovic said they also tapped alumni industry professionals to be a part of the dialogue. UMUC alumna and Maryland Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Christine Ross opened the virtual event, welcoming participants.
“It facilitated broad interaction from your desktop,” said Ross. “You can connect with a wide variety of experienced professionals from all over the world and interact at varying levels.”
At UMUC, alumni relations staff work closely with career services staff, helping to connect employers with outgoing students. They host a number of LinkUP events both virtual and in person as opportunities to get connected. This was their first virtual event tailored specifically to entrepreneurship and timed to coincide with Small Business Week.
“We have so many entrepreneurs,” said Tomasovic. “Entrepreneurship has been folded into our business curriculum.”
Civility Management Solutions President and CEO Laurie Artis said that it is a great advantage to be a part of the UMUC LinkUP community.
“Being able to tap into others who are also interested or living the entrepreneurship life is a huge benefit,” the UMUC alumna said, “to simply know you are not alone.”
Maryland Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Christine Ross welcomes students and business owners to the LinkUP with UMUC Entrepeneurs virtual event.