From catching up with former classmates to mentoring the next generation of leaders, the launch of Trinity’s new online social network makes it easier than ever to stay connected to College life.
By Liz Allemang
DAVID PLANT’S relationship with Trinity has evolved over the last 44 years— from student, to alumnus to most recently, the Chair of the College’s Alumni Association. “As a student, I benefited immensely from the alumni I encountered—their advice and wisdom were invaluable,” Plant ’77 says.
Such queries led the College to conduct extensive consultation with students, alumni and staff to explore how best to connect members of the Trinity community with each other. This assessment feeds into one of the objectives of the College’s Strategic Plan 2016—facilitating meaningful connections, such as mentorship and networking, among members of the community.
Based on the College’s strengths—Trinity’s people, program and place—the plan includes a series of recommendations and areas of opportunity, such as leveraging and fostering connections between the College’s people: past, present and future.
Enter ConnecTRIN Online, a new website that facilitates networking, mentorship and a healthy dose of socializing all within a secure, password protected environment. Think of it as an even-more targetedand welcoming version of LinkedIn, where users automatically have a common talking point and all have opted in to be a part of the system, meaning you can reach out to them without hesitation, knowing that contact is welcome.
INSPIRED BY ALUMNI-STUDENT NETWORKING EVENTS
For some time, Trinity’s Alumni Association and student leadership had been looking for ways to forge stronger connections between students and alumni. As a first step, the College launched the ConnectTRIN event series (think High Table meets networking reception, bringing together students with alumni). The success of this series was one catalyst for the development of ConnecTRIN Online.
BUILT BY AND FOR THE TRINITY COMMUNITY
Acquiring and adapting the ConnecTRIN platform began with a survey of students and alumni, led by Assistant Provost Jonathan Steels, which included questions about how each wanted to engage with the College.
“Most respondents, particularly students and new graduates, wanted access to relevant working professionals.
Two-thirds wanted help with their job searches, career coaching and exposure,” says Steels. “Interestingly, our young alumni showed a strong interest in both being mentored by more established graduates and mentoring current students. We’re hoping that this system will address those needs.”
“Overall responses were loud and clear: They want to network. A huge number of alumni of all ages indicated interest in mentorship.”
The software selected is currently being used at 150 colleges and universities including the University of Oxford and UCLA. It is, of course, entirely tailored to meet the needs of the Trinity community.
“We have a fantastic group of people—those who are able to get into, study at and graduate from Trinity are highly accomplished leaders in their fields with stellar careers all over the world, whether in business, law or international affairs,” says Plant. “One of the advantages of having a closed system is that we can offer a sort of living database, allowing users to directly connect with each other to build relationships and a stronger sense of community,”
JOB BOARD, PROGRAM COLLABORATION ON THE HORIZON
Also on the horizon: a job board feature, which would allow Trinity alumni to hire from within the community, and alumni to have a virtual foot in the door where other alumni work. “Our students are worried about what comes next,” says Plant. “Conversations with alumni can help to calm these fears or provide some direction.”
Says Steels, “There is great strength in connecting these people with each other.” At U of T, versions of the platform are available at both Rotman School of Management and the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering, and have proven to be valuable tools for alumni. In one division of Engineering 40 per cent of alumni have joined the platform. For Trinity, that could mean users can connect with thousands of alumni around the globe with the click of a button.
There is also potential to collaborate closely with Trinity’s programs like Ethics, Society and Law, International Relations and Immunology, possibly carving out a specific place for them within the network.
Like Steels, Plant is eager to see how users connect with each other on this new platform: “Trinity has a fantastic community that, if engaged, can accomplish a huge amount.”
WHAT IS CONNECTRIN?
It’s a secure online environment that allows Trinity members to connect with each other. ConnecTRIN also features College news, events, photo sharing and more. Since members have selected to be part of the network, you can reach out to other members without hesitation. Sign up takes just two minutes with your LinkedIn, Facebook or email account.
ConnecTRIN online allows users to re-connect with classmates. Logging on gives you the ability to search for alumni and students by grad year, location, industry and name. For alumni looking to re-connect with old classmates, or students hoping to find a mentor, the search function of ConnecTRIN is a powerful tool. And, because it’s only for Trinity members, there is already a built in connection.
MENTORSHIP MADE EASY
For those looking to help guide the next generation of Trinity alumni, ConnecTRIN allows users to indicate interest in a number of areas: mentoring a current student or recent
graduate, finding a mentor in their field, answering career-related questions, reviewing résumés, offering advice or an internship, meeting for a coffee or connecting other Trinity community members with their colleagues and extended network.
THE TRINITY NETWORK
In today’s competitive job market, landing a position can be about who you know. ConnecTRIN’s targeted networking is more important than ever. For those eager to grow their contact base, ConnecTRIN helps users expand their professional network through Trinity connections working at leading companies around the world.