Bootcamps are fast becoming a viable alternative to four-year colleges and universities.
One thing missing from the bootcamp experience, however, is an alumni network. Bootcamps have traditionally kept in touch with current bootcampers and students, but there hasn’t been a systematic way to keep graduates engaged after they leave bootcamp.
This is why we believe the future of bootcamps lies in alumni networks. Just like with a school alumni community, a bootcamp alumni community can keep graduates within the fold as alumni members—helping them give back to the bootcamp and stay connected to the community.
In this article, we’ll discuss the importance of bootcamp alumni communities and how to go about setting one up!
Decide if You Need an Alumni Community
First of all, while an alumni community is great for many bootcamps, it’s not necessary for all. Consider if your institution needs one with these three questions:
- Do you want to keep your bootcamp alumni engaged?
- Is there a benefit for alumni members to stay active in the bootcamp community after graduation?
- Would current students and faculty value an alumni network?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then an alumni community is a great idea!
Determining Value for Alumni
Now that you’ve decided to move forward with an alumni community, the next step is to determine what value it will offer your graduates.
Some bootcamps already have an established alumni network, so be sure to research what types of benefits are available to members. Here are a few ideas:
- Career support services like career coaching or resume reviews from instructors and staff members, offering engaging job search tips and advice.
- Job board where alumni can post their open positions for other graduates looking for work and bootcamp students on the hunt for internships or apprentices.
- Alumni meetups or events where bootcampers can connect with other graduates for networking and mentorship programs.
- Access to alumni events, including networking and professional development opportunities, such as hackathon events where alumni’s kids can exhibit their Python coding skills, for instance.
All of these can help foster a stronger sense of community and camaraderie among bootcamp alumni, helping build a shared legacy for graduates that will last long after graduation.
Choosing a Platform for Your Alumni Community
Next, you’ll need to choose an alumni community platform that works best for your needs.
- Social networks like Facebook, Slack, Discord, Circle, or Prentus
- Private online communities or forums
- Alumni community software like Graduway or Alumni Reach
Be sure to ask for input from your bootcamp staff and alumni when choosing a platform. They’ll likely have valuable insights about what has and hasn’t worked for them in the past.
While Slack and Discord, in particular, are popular platforms, you may want to consider Prentus for its ability to gamify your community—-a great way to motivate younger alumni to sign up!
Setting Up Community Guidelines
Once you’ve decided on a platform, it’s time to get started building your alumni community! Be sure to promote your new community to current students and staff, as well as past graduates, and keep the communication flowing with regular updates.
The bootcamp alumni community should be organized around a set of core values, goals, and guidelines. These are designed to support your bootcamp mission statement by creating an environment that welcomes all bootcamp students while encouraging thoughtful discussion and engagement.
For example, you can use the bootcamp alumni forum as a place for bootcampers to share their job search experiences, offer advice to one another, and provide support during the career transition process.
The specific guidelines will depend on the bootcamp or school alumni community, but some good ones to consider include:
- Be respectful and civil to one another.
- Keep personal information private. Do not share your bootcamp alumni email address publicly on social media sites such as Twitter or Facebook unless you are okay with people who don’t know each other finding it out there.
- Respect copyright laws. Do not post bootcamp lecture materials, copyrighted articles, or any other content that you do not have permission to share.
- Use your best judgment. If something is questionable, it’s probably best to avoid posting it in the community.
Write up your guidelines and share them through a pinned post or a welcome email when people join the community. This will help set the tone for how members should interact with each other.
Bringing On Members
Always try to bring on new members by cohorts. It’s better to have a few bootcampers or alumni join at the same time than one by one.
Start with bootcamp students who may be graduating soon, bootcamp instructors, and bootcamp staff members—they can serve as early adopters of your new community and help promote it to their networks, so you can reach more alumni later on.
Nurturing the Community and Connecting Members
Once your bootcamp alumni community is up and running, it’s important to nurture it by regularly posting content and engaging with members. This will help keep the community active and encourage thoughtful discussion among members.
Some ideas for content include:
- Articles or blog posts written by alumni or staff members.
- Career advice from bootcampers who have recently landed jobs.
- Interviews with bootcamp employers or instructors
- Links to bootcamp alumni profiles, projects, and websites.
- Updates about bootcamp alumni events and news.
Try to have at least a few posts per week, but also keep in mind that bootcampers will likely be more engaged when you give them something new every day or two! If your bootcamp alumni community is on a social networking site like Facebook or Twitter, it’s a good idea to use these platforms to share bootcamp-related news and bootcamp alumni content.
Also consider creating an email newsletter for your bootcamp alumni community, especially if most of the activity takes place on a forum or another type of platform that doesn’t encourage regular updates. You can also use newsletters to promote upcoming events.
Feel free to get creative with your content!
So there you have it! A guide to setting up and managing a bootcamp alumni community. If you follow these tips, your bootcamp alumni community will be thriving in no time. And who knows? It may even help attract new bootcamp applicants! So get started today and see for yourself how beneficial an alumni community can be!