For anyone that has checked out old emails in their Outlook inbox recently, you may have spotted a message from an LMU-exclusive platform called The Pride. It's been nearly a month since it was sent out, and I'd encourage anyone who hasn't signed up to do so now.
If you haven't heard about it, The Pride allows current undergraduate Lions to directly contact alumni from the University within their major and allows for other opportunities to find alumni with career interests close to yours. Based off of my experience, some suggestions The Pride might give you include connecting with alumni working in the L.A. area, alumni who have experience in real estate and urban development and alumni willing to help with networking and informational interviews.
The University chose PeopleGrove as its platform base and has been in development since 2018, opening up to alumni in mid-July once development and branding had finished and to undergraduates in mid-October.
"That's not uncommon for [development] to take a year or so to get ready for these kinds of things," Branden Grimmett, associate provost for the Career and Professional Development office, told me in an interview recently. "All of the back-end would have been working on customization, making sure that [the] branding was accurate and making sure that we have all the emails of the alumni to invite them into the system."
By having alumni directly reach out on this platform that's specific to the University, The Pride hopes to allow for a much more direct connection between people who are there to discuss their paths with students. This is in contrast to other job-oriented platforms like LinkedIn; though the latter does allow you to find Lions working at specific companies like The Loyolan through a cursory search, it doesn't allow for other searches based on major or general interest.
"Students have the ability to search for alumni based on LMU-specific variables," Liz Connolly, the assistant director for Alumni and Employer Engagement in the Career and Professional Development office also told me in that same interview. "So students can search for alumni based on LMU alumni affinity groups or based on shared campus involvement."
Because The Pride requires current undergraduates to take the first step in conversations and connections, the platform cannot show off its unique features at full strength without full engagement from the undergraduate community. So far, that hasn't been realized yet.
As of last Wednesday, 635 undergraduate students have accounts on the platform out of a total of 2,361 accounts that have completed the required sign-up—yours truly included—Connolly told me. Connolly further elaborated to me that those numbers break down into 1,674 alumni and 52 faculty and staff members. The alumni network's running start and enthusiasm to join the program might help explain why their numbers are more than 1,000 accounts higher than ours are.
"It is best practice to invite alumni first," said Grimmett, "so that when we invite students there are people in the system that they can have a conversation with."
Given that the University has an undergraduate population of 6,638 people, that means that, if we round up, one out of every 10 undergraduate students has an account on The Pride. Granted, these numbers are consistent with other institutions' platforms at launch and are expected to experience fluctuations over time as more people sign up.
However, that gives all the more reason to expect most undergraduates who opened up their inbox and saw that sign-up message to actually go through with it, as they should have a month ago. It's not like everyone who's been taking online classes 24/7 this semester could have missed it.
"Given how critical the job market is now for students, especially soon-to-be graduates," said Grimmett, "we want to make sure we do everything we can to make things easier for alumni."
If you haven't signed up yet, you don't have an excuse now. Why not look at that email and start the sign-up process today? There's so much more to find in The Pride than what you're probably finding right now.
This is the opinion of Cristobal Spielmann, a junior environmental science major from Brentwood, Tennessee. Email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow and tweet comments to @LALoyolan on Twitter, and like The Loyolan on Facebook.