BOONE, N.C. — Appalachian State University has launched a new mentoring and networking platform, Ask a Mountaineer, to help students and alumni connect for career guidance and professional development.
The online tool — managed by the Office of Alumni Affairs — allows students and alumni to submit questions and solicit advice from the nearly 146,000 members of the App State Alumni Association.
“Our alumni have a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience, and we wanted a simple and easy way for our students to be able to tap into their expertise,” said Savannah Stanbery, App State’s assistant director of alumni affairs for young alumni engagement, who spearheaded the development and implementation of the program.
Officially launched in August, the initiative has already garnered positive responses from both students and alumni.
Nick Siringo, a junior from Port Saint Lucie, Florida, majoring in communication studies, was among the first students to use the platform.
“Ask a Mountaineer was extremely helpful,” Siringo said. “I asked a question about setting myself up for success post-graduation and received four responses very quickly. I was able to match with an alumnus who graduated with a communications degree and business minor, which is exactly what I am studying. He gave me helpful tips to navigate the field.”
Paving the way for connection
The platform, created in response to student and alumni interest, is available free of charge to all App State students, alumni, faculty and staff and does not require users to register or create an account.
Users submit questions through an online form. After review by staff, questions are routed via email to alumni with relevant experience, based on related keywords. Alumni who prefer not to participate in the program may opt out of future communications.
Once the individual submitting a question is matched with an alum, they have direct, one-to-one communication via email. Known as “flash mentoring,” this model allows for both one-time interactions as well as extended correspondence and relationship building.
Stanbery said there is no limit to the number of questions that may be asked. In fact, she encourages students and alumni to submit multiple questions and return to the tool throughout their academic and professional careers, as each submission represents a unique opportunity to make contact with someone new.
Additionally, even a single question can yield multiple connections — the current response-to-question ratio is nearly 4-to-1, with most submissions receiving responses from multiple alumni.
While Ask a Mountaineer was developed primarily with students in mind, anyone affiliated with App State is encouraged to submit questions — making it a useful tool for early career alumni, faculty who are in search of speakers for classes and events or anyone who is seeking to expand their professional network.
Stanbery said the program not only gives students access to the experience and expertise of alumni but also provides a pathway for alumni to give back to their alma mater by engaging with current students and providing valuable professional guidance.
Alumnus Jeremy Waldoch ’99 was one of the first alumni to engage with the platform. “It felt really great to assist a fellow Mountaineer. I love that App State has this tool now, and I’m excited to be a part of its success,” Waldoch said.
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About Alumni Affairs
The Office of Alumni Affairs provides networking opportunities, affinity program discounts, alumni chapter gatherings and special events, merchandise and travel tour options to Appalachian State University alumni.
The Appalachian State University Alumni Association consists of nearly 146,000 living App State alumni. Membership is free and open to all graduates of App State. The association’s mission is to help alumni remember their App State Experience and stay connected with current Mountaineers, and to work to ensure that those experiences are available for future App State alumni by raising support for the Alumni Memorial Scholarship and The Appalachian Fund.
About Appalachian State University
As the premier public undergraduate institution in the Southeast, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives. App State is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System, with a national reputation for innovative teaching and opening access to a high-quality, affordable education for all. The university enrolls more than 21,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and 80 graduate majors at its Boone and Hickory campuses and through App State Online. Learn more at https://www.appstate.edu.