Andy Stirups has been the Alumni and Student Ambassador Officer at Birkbeck College since September 2013. As well as coordinating volunteering and mentoring opportunities for former students, Andy also manages Team Birkbeck, the College’s student ambassador programme.
Here, Andy talks to us about the role of alumni, and their impact within the university.
How can the alumni community help current students?
Alumni can help current students in a number of different ways, specifically through volunteering, mentoring, or donating to Birkbeck.
Birkbeck is in a unique position with over 70% of graduates continuing to live and work in London after they graduate and because of this, we are really able to harness their enthusiasm and commitment to volunteer to support current and prospective Birkbeck students.
A significant number of our former students participate in one of our volunteering and mentoring opportunities. Over 300 alumni volunteers have supported seven alumni engagement programmes just in this past year alone, giving up some 3,200 hours of their own time. These alumni engagement programmes are designed to support and develop the lives of our current and even prospective students. From helping prospective students decide whether Birkbeck is the right institution for them, to sitting on an employability panel – alumni can really make a significant difference to Birkbeck and its student body. Alumni also play a huge part in bedding in our international students – they are on hand in their first term to help practise conversational English, figure out where the library is or give their tips about what to do and see in London.
Many alumni also decide to donate to Birkbeck. Donations from alumni make a significant difference, by funding areas that will benefit current and future generations of students and make Birkbeck an even better place to study. Nearly £1.8 million was generously donated by alumni in the past year, with nearly half of those alumni who were asked to donate in the last alumni telephone campaign deciding to give. This is a wonderful testament to the generosity of alumni and we are incredibly grateful for their support.
Can you describe the involvement of the alumni community with Birkbeck Talent and Careers & Employability?
Birkbeck Alumni can advertise roles and internships through the College’s professional recruitment service, Birkbeck Talent. Birkbeck graduates know first-hand how talented and highly motivated current students are and are often keen to exclusively advertise roles within their companies to Birkbeck students.
Alumni also enhance the careers and employability prospects of our current students through two volunteering programmes. Every month alumni volunteers participate in the Careers Clinic, a programme designed to review current students’ CVs and job applications, offering essential advice to students about how to improve their employability. A small number of our alumni also run mock interviews for current students, which helps to ensure that they are best placed when reaching the interview stage of a job process.
Our alumni can also participate in a cross-College programme, Mentoring Pathways, which raises the soft skills and employment prospects of our current students before they graduate from Birkbeck.
What can the alumni department help former students with?
There are a number of benefits and services available to Birkbeck Alumni. All graduates are eligible to join the Birkbeck Library and Senate House Library as a former student of the College. The Careers and Employability Team also provide careers advice and workshops for recent graduates. A full list of alumni benefits and services can be viewed here.
We also help to coordinate a number of alumni groups, based both in the UK and overseas, and our office helps to support these networks to ensure that former students can stay in touch with old classmates after they have graduated.
What is your impression of our institutional mission and values?
Birkbeck’s founding mission, to provide education for working Londoners, is still as relevant today as ever before. If George Birkbeck were alive today, he would recognise the College as the same institution he founded over 193 year ago. Birkbeck continues to be a world-class institution, known for its academic excellence and I am proud to work for such a great university.
What is Team Birkbeck?
Team Birkbeck is the College’s student ambassador programme. There are nearly 50 current Birkbeck students, both undergraduate and postgraduate, who represent the College at a number of events and activities such as Open Evening and campus tours. Team Birkbeck have worked a total of 2300 hours in the past year, carrying out a number of outreach activities, such as visiting schools or FE colleges to talk to students about university life, or to teach them subjects such as mathematics to ensure that they are equipped with the best possible chance of furthering their education. Around 25 to 30 students participate in one of the Careers Clinic Sessions.
Working for Team Birkbeck is a great way to get involved with the institution and it’s something that I would highly recommend to any current student looking to enhance the CV.