The Pilot community stretches from The Bluff to Mexico, Washington DC, India and beyond. Now there is an online network for members of the community to connect from anywhere in the world: UP Switchboard.
UP Switchboard gives the UP community the chance to ask for things and offer what they have. This includes alumni, faculty, staff, students and parents of students.
According to Craig Swinyard, director of Alumni Relations, both current and former Pilots can ask for anything from recommendations on what neighborhood to move to, to contact information for a reliable babysitter.
“So it’s kind of like Craigslist, just way less creepy,” Swinyard said. “In the sense that, if you are on UP Switchboard, you know that the people that are on here are UP people.”
Sophomore economics and entrepreneurship major Lillian D’Amico works as an office assistant for Alumni Relations and an administrator for UP Switchboard. She believes that UP Switchboard can create a strong virtual community and uses it herself.
“My roommate was actually looking for a job and a woman off campus posted saying that she needed a nanny to help with her kids after school, and so I was able to help connect the two of them,” D’Amico said.
UP Switchboard started in April 2015, and as of Sept. 13, has provided 643 people with a platform to network and counts 682 connections so far. An interaction is considered a connection whenever a person reaches out and gets a response.
“What I love about it is that, first of all, someone from our community is being helped,” Swinyard said. “And secondly, we have great interaction between all these different alums from different classes who likely wouldn’t have connected with each other if we didn’t have this platform.”
The platform can also be helpful for current UP students. It offers the chance to connect with recent graduates who might have helpful advice on how to apply for graduate school. It also provides the opportunity to get career advice from UP alumni.
Katie Mitchell, marketing and communications manager for Alumni Relations, uses UP Switchboard to offer help to students and alumni with their personal statements.
“It’s something that I really enjoy doing,” Mitchell said. “It’s not something that I have a lot of time to devote to, but if I can help people here and there, then I’m more than happy to.”
So far UP Switchboard has an activity rate of over 15 percent, which means that the ratio of posts to users suggests that the site is being used regularly.
Associate Director for News and Content Joe Kuffner was involved in bringing Switchboard to campus. He encourages students to give it a try and to feel free to give feedback.
“No matter how kind of silly or crazy they think their question or offer is they should go for it,” Kuffner said. “Because I think they’ll get some positive response.”
Contact Staff Writer Alina Rosenkranz at firstname.lastname@example.org.