Hello! My name is Daniel Magerman. As I leave State College for my hometown of Elkins Park (a little suburb bordering Northeast Philly), I’ll be taking my memories of PSL with me. The Writing Center was my second home at Penn State for three years. I worked, traveled, partied, and learned with my fellow tutors, coordinators, and the PSL management. My next jobs as a professional tutor, freelance writer, and then, English teacher in Colombia will probably be great, but will also have a tough time measuring up to the community I’m saying goodbye to. I’ve spent the summer helping to create this alumni network, and now, with my heart heavy but excited about the possibilities, I join its ranks.
Summer 2016 brought to State College heat, 2,000 new freshmen, the usual Arts Fest rigmarole, and the dawning of the Penn State Learning Alumni Network. Originally incepted a decade ago and then reinvigorated as one of Penn State Learning’s strategic planning goals, the PSL Alumni Network, in the form of partial lists of outdated alumni email addresses, gathered dust on a shelf for years. As a peer tutor and student coordinator for the Writing Center since 2014, I was aware that the department was interested in engaging with alumni. I was also aware that administrators did not have time to undertake such a project alone, and would benefit from student input. In May, faced with graduation and imminent unemployment, I proposed to Neill Johnson (Director) and Cindy Spiegel (Cocurricular Programs Coordinator) that I could spearhead the design and implementation of PSL’s first alumni network. Luckily, they went for it. A few weeks later, I began work as a new alumnus and grateful employee of PSL.
Instead of boring you with my journey investigating the inner-workings of Drupal, navigating the bureaucracy of LinkedIn, and dipping my toes into the scary water of social media marketing, I’ll lay out the present state of the network and how we see it moving forward. The PSL Alumni Network currently lives in the shiny chic home of a free Weebly site. (For those who don’t know, Weebly was founded by two Penn State alumni. I wonder if they worked for Penn State Learning...) The website, http://pslalumni.weebly.com/, hosts resources and periodicals relevant to all current and former PSL employees. The “About” page describes the network and its potential. The “Blog” is a platform for alumni to share about their post-college experiences and how PSL might still be an influence on them. The “Newsletter” tab will be updated every month with the goings-on at PSL. “Resources” offers links to other relevant Penn State pages and subject-specific sites. Finally, “Contact Us!” is a place to get in touch with PSL administrators and a gateway to the network’s social media platforms.
On Facebook, you’ll find that nearly 100 tutors and alumni have already joined the “Penn State Learning Alumni Network” group page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/pslalumni/. The group is designed to host discussions, foster reminiscing, and encourage alumni to stay connected. Stay tuned to your newsfeeds for updates about alumni events (e.g. happy hours, workshops, etc.) coming to a city near you – and back in State College.
PSL finally has proper representation on LinkedIn with a brand new “company page” found here: https://www.linkedin.com/company/penn-state-learning. The page is an excellent place for employers and potential employees to connect about job opportunities. The skills learned as a tutor are applicable in many fields. It’s also helpful for employers outside of PSL to see the page and get a better idea of the work you did while at Penn State. Just be sure to edit the “Experiences” section of your profiles so that they link to Penn State Learning.
Lastly, you can now meander back to your Penn State Learning bookmark and visit a new tab created exclusively for PSL alum: https://pennstatelearning.psu.edu/alumni. This page won’t change much, but it’s a simple reminder to alumni that they’re we’re still a part of the Penn State Learning community.
Looking a month, a semester, a few years in the future, I see a network with great potential to grow. I’ve learned the hard way that rallying enthusiasm can be challenging; there are so many groups vying for our attention on the Internet. However, the word is spreading that PSL has established itself in digital ink. What began as a just a few posts and photos can evolve into something meaningful. Tutoring math, writing, science, and languages was never just about the paycheck; it was about people – about teaching and learning. Only now, instead of a table and chairs to chat around, we’ll have comments in a forum.
Fortunately, the PSL Alumni Network is taking off. On the ground, at PSL, two new alumni network coordinators will be hired (in addition to their original duties as tutors and/or receptionists). While I am tearfully leaving PSL in a few days, their job will be to harness the slow, steady momentum generated in summer 2016 and push it forward. These coordinators will be responsible for reaching out to alumni, asking questions, soliciting blog posts, and getting current tutors involved with the process. All PSL staff will make contributions to the network, keeping the conversation lively and productive; many will soon be alum themselves.
Then, the rest is up to us, the alumni. We now have the resources and the platforms to regain a connection to an impactful part of our Penn State experience. Once, we worked together – in Boucke, Sparks, and World Campus. Let’s work together again.
|PSL Alumni Network||
the alumni blog