Over 200 students took the opportunity to ‘Eat and Chat with Alumni’ during a May student event lunch series across all three campuses, which connected students with 25 graduates from all faculties and a range of industries.
Organised by Strategy Lab (part of Strategy & Planning) in close collaboration with Alumni Relations, the purpose of this pan-university initiative was to link students with alumni to discuss and share their most valuable AUT experiences.
Alumni shared thoughts on what they most valued about AUT, what made the biggest difference to them, what they wished they’d done differently, how they made decisions about their future, and how their experiences at AUT translated into their careers. Students also reflected on what they thought was great about learning at AUT.
The series is part of a broader programme of work that draws on the student voice, in this case identifying the experiences students most value so that can influence AUT’s market positioning and decision making. A participating graduate and student made the below comments during the event:
"The down to earth culture at AUT filled me with confidence to explore all the avenues I could within my study and time at AUT… From easy and close contact with the lecturers to the encouragement of sharing ideas without fear of judgement was an experience I felt throughout my study, it helped solidify AUT as a positive place to be curious.
Small class sizes, one on one time, being able to ask questions in class and get answers, that’s the separation from other universities."
Head of Strategy Lab, Nicky Toresen, said exploring and capturing the voices of AUT students and alumni is a powerful tool to help AUT plan for exceptional student experiences in the future. “We wanted to design a listening opportunity to better understand our students’ most impactful experiences contributing to learner success, so we can ensure these aspects are celebrated and protected in future decision making.
This highly collaborative initiative could only take place with support from numerous areas of the university. As well as learning a lot, it was fantastic to see alumni sharing their real-world wisdom with students who were eager to find answers and be inspired.”
Director of Alumni Relations Sam Mickell said the initiative was a great way to engage AUT’s vast alumni talents. “Getting alumni to volunteer their time was easy, they love sharing their industry experience and advice with current students.”
Findings from each conversation were captured by a team of staff volunteer ‘scribes’ and will be incorporated into a project report to contribute to future planning resources.