BRUnet connects alums and job-hunting students online

The new system helps students contact alums more easily, though fewer are available

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

As the Brown Alumni Association transitions from ACCess, its previous online database that put students in contact with alums, to BRUnet, fewer alumni contacts are available, though listings are more detailed and allow for more informed searches.

ACCess was introduced in 2000 as an electronic replacement for a simple list of alums who were willing to talk to students, allowing users to search the list for the first time, Vice President of Alumni Relations Todd Andrews ’83 wrote in an e-mail to The Herald. BRUnet was introduced in June 2007 as a replacement for ACCess after the the alumni association conducted student focus groups, which indicated that students wanted more responsive contacts and more detailed information on the contacts’ histories-both professionally and at Brown.

The approximately 6,000 ACCess alumni contacts had to reregister for the new system and were invited to do so via postal mail and e-mail last February and March, before the launch of the new BRUnet site, according to Andrews. About 2,000 alums have since registered for BRUnet, and the site is “on track to reach 3,000 by the end of the academic year,” said Andrews, adding that this amount is a milestone, not the final goal. The alumni association is advertising BRUnet to alums through the Brown Alumni Magazine and a newsletter and will continue to reach out to alums aggressively, according to Andrews.

Alums were also asked to complete a profile of themselves, including their activities at Brown and their career histories, allowing for more detailed searches than ACCess permitted. For example, a female student interested in finding out more about gender issues in a particular field could search for a female alum with experience in that field, Andrews wrote.

The office solicited the entire body of alums in addition to those who had registered for ACCess. “We’re trying to reach a whole new audience of alumni,” said Andrews.

Although there are fewer contacts in the new database, Andrews said they are more valuable and more likely to respond to students’ inquiries.

“I think it’ll be more effective if (the alumni) have to go out of their way a little more,” said Smita Gupta ’08, who has only used ACCess, after hearing about BRUnet. “They’ll be the ones that are most willing to respond.”

“It gives people a basis to identify with those people,” Gupta said. “It’s hard to realize that you actually have a lot in common with them.”

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