Campuses Advise Mid-Career Alumni

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The recession is spawning a new kind of college reunion: between alumni career services departments and mid-career professionals whose last previous contact with their undergraduate alma mater might have been decades ago.

Many colleges are revamping career services offerings to accommodate older alumni, whose career needs differ greatly from those of students recent graduates, the New York Times reports. Laid-off alumni from institutions including Syracuse, Bucknell, Notre Dame and Lehigh are responding with enthusiasm, renewing ties that could translate into larger donations down the line.

The story quotes a few older alumni who believe recent help they received from their alma mater helped them become re-employed.

The new services include panels of alumni experts, professional affinity networks, personal coaching and job listings. "Web seminars, or Webinars, have become increasingly popular with older alumni," the Times says, "not least because they can provide polite, anonymous cover for those who may feel abashed about seeking help through an institution that was a hallmark of their distant youth." Online sessions present free expert advice on interviewing, resume writing, navigating social networking sites, and other career management topics.

Lehigh University, in Bethlehem, Penn., a pioneer in the move to reach older alumni, began retooling during the last downturn when officials realized that its career counselors weren't equipped to help mid-career professionals. This year it has advised 4,000 alumni, double last year's total. In June Lehigh's alumni career solutions director Lori Kennedy gave a Webinar to teach 40 other schools how to set up similar programs.