University News

BrownConnect 2.0 to feature funding search tool

App to launch Nov. 5 with BrownConnect Day, capped by peer-to-peer internship fair

By
Staff Writer
Friday, October 30, 2015

The Center for Careers and Life After Brown will launch BrownConnect 2.0 — a revamped version of the University’s internship search and alumni mentoring site — Nov. 5. The improvements will focus on aggregating various funding opportunities in one space, said Aixa Kidd, director of BrownConnect.

Since BrownConnect was released two years ago, CareerLAB has received requests from students that all funding opportunities be listed in one area, Kidd said. Currently, internships and awards for the summer are spread across the sites of various University departments and centers. For example, the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs’ Summer Fellowship is only listed on the Watson Institute’s website. But BrownConnect 2.0’s funding feed will bring together all of these funding opportunities.

“If you search ‘internships in Boston,’ you’ll get a listing of internships in Boston and you’ll get a listing of alumni in Boston. With the upgrade, you’ll now also get a listing of possible funding opportunities,” Kidd said.

Brown awards students funding opportunities to help offset expenses incurred during their low-paid or unpaid internships during the summer, Kidd said, adding that BrownConnect 2.0 will be a “one-stop shopping tool.”

On the Nov. 5 launch, CareerLAB has a “whole day planned to highlight BrownConnect,” Kidd said. BrownConnect Day will include multiple workshops focused on internship and research opportunities.

“We will be offering a variety of programs for students as they head into the internship-search season,” said Sarah Brown, BrownConnect’s internship manager.

The first piece of programming will be a lunch panel at CareerLAB, during which two students, Tolu Lawal ’16 and Gabriel Reyes ’18, and two alums, Toni Sayce ’04 and Matthew Josefowicz ’94, will discuss how to overcome internship obstacles, such as housing, funding and communication with companies.

The panel will also open up the conversation to students, Brown said, adding, “We want to hear what the students are thinking.”

Following the luncheon, a peer career advisor walk-in event called “Cupcakes and Connections” will take place. The event is aimed at helping students get started with BrownConnect, begin working on their resumes and make contacts relevant to internships.

The subsequent “BrownConnect Internship Search” event will feature a discussion of BrownConnect tools and how students can use them to their advantage. The event will also include a lecture from Gregory Seiler, BrownConnect’s international internship and signature programs manager, about international internship searching.

The day will conclude with the “Peer-to-Peer Summer Opportunities Fair,” during which 80 students will discuss and represent the organizations they interned at last summer.

Social media will also play a role, as BrownConnect will host an Instagram competition on the day of the launch. Members of student groups and sports teams will be encouraged to take a photograph wearing red BrownConnect t-shirts and comment #BrownConnect on Instagram. The image must represent why the group loves BrownConnect, and the group with the most creative picture will be awarded $500 in funding.

In addition to the upgraded funding tool, BrownConnect will also launch its own Twitter account, which will be managed by Business, Entrepreneurship and Organization Capstone students. The account will announce various tips on how to use the website, post stories of students’ past internships and highlight summer opportunities. CareerLAB has received feedback from students who have requested to hear about new opportunities more quickly, and “Twitter is the fastest way to get announcements out,” Brown said.

Andrew Coke ’16, a BEO Capstone student, said the Twitter account will be used to “measure student satisfaction, which can then help us determine how to improve the website in order to meet students’ needs.” The Capstone project includes five students who were assigned to create surveys and focus groups on how CareerLAB can improve BrownConnect’s website.

Coke received an internship last summer at Merrill Lynch in Chicago through BrownConnect. He said he used the site to reach out to alums and ask them how they got on their career paths and stumbled upon someone who helped him get his “foot in the door” at the management firm.

Though the upgrade will allow students to access funding opportunities all in one location, some have asked for the ability to search for alums by a certain group or topic, Kidd said. For instance, first-generation students have expressed interest in connecting with alums who were also the first in their families to attend college.

Kidd said this feature is already available, but students do not realize that. BrownConnect hopes to increase awareness about this feature among students, she added.

BrownConnect’s pilot program launched two years ago with over 100 summer opportunities listed on the site. This past year, BrownConnect had over 650 Bruno opportunities — opportunities listed by Brown alums. CareerLAB is hoping to increase that number again this year, and “the feedback received from alumni has already been amazing,” Kidd said.

Since its launch, BrownConnect has had 10,816 unique users. Additionally, students have sent 5,959 emails to alums via the website. To date, 14,999 unique alumni profiles have been viewed, with total alumni profile views reaching 47,867.

BrownConnect 2.0 is only the beginning, Kidd said. “We’re hoping to have another upgrade in the spring that will focus on a peer-to-peer tool,” she said, adding that this tool would allow students to get in contact with peers who have had internship experiences of interest.