Art history major Elizabeth Glass set a networking plan in motion early this year. She hoped to find someone to provide advice (and maybe a job offer) in the months leading up to her December graduation. So when GoHopOnline.com launched in late February—replacing Johns Hopkins Connect as the university's online alumni directory—she rushed to sign up. Glass immediately saw the benefits of the new service, which now makes identifying appropriate mentors easy. "Pretty much everyone is on LinkedIn in this day and age, and trying to find Hopkins alumni is difficult because there's an ocean of alumni and you're looking for a few specific fish," Glass says. "It's very hard to filter through all those people to find someone willing to help."
With a quick GoHopOnline search, Glass found a recent graduate who works in the development office at the Art Institute of Chicago, where she assists with fundraising and donation efforts. Within days, the two connected by email and had a half-hour phone chat. After that conversation, Glass found she was interested in a line of museum-related work she'd never considered before.
With more than 200,000 alumni around the world, the university's goal for GoHopOnline is to create a digital space where students and alumni can interact. It's simple to log on with an email address or through Facebook and LinkedIn, and registering via LinkedIn moves profile information automatically. The site is dynamic, too, allowing members to upload photos and give status updates, with rotating feeds about Johns Hopkins news and events. Moving forward, GoHopOnline will expand to include a mobile app and the creation of themed groups that users can join (based on geographic region or area of interest, for example). But perhaps the most noteworthy feature is that alumni can check boxes to indicate how they're willing to aid others professionally, whether it's reviewing résumés, conducting mock interviews, or just answering questions. According to Susan deMuth, executive director of Alumni Relations, 80 percent of alumni members so far have agreed to be mentors. "This venue allows alumni to raise their hands and volunteer to help," she says. "It makes it much easier to reach out to people."
For Bryan McMillan, Bus '00, '02 (MBA), chair of the Alumni Council's Student Engagement Committee, the site is a way to involve students as soon as they arrive on campus. But McMillan, who runs a global consultancy firm in Columbia, Maryland, doesn't see the service as a tool for young people only. He believes it's a boon for well-established bosses as well, who need to replace baby boomers as they edge toward retirement. "We need a pipeline of critical thinkers and people on top of their game," he says. "And Hopkins is putting those kinds of graduates out there. GoHopOnline has great value for everyone."
Register at GoHopOnline.com.