Lifelong Learning and Professional Development Opportunities
These activities provide the heart of your club’s programmatic content and are designed to provide business-related learning opportunities “beyond the classroom” that Ross alumni would expect from a Michigan Ross affiliate organization.
The Michigan Ross Office of Alumni Engagement has established a new program, RossChats, that will actively engage with faculty members to identify opportunities for them to connect with alumni clubs while they are already scheduled to travel to a certain region or city. Read more about recruiting faculty and alumni speakers here.
Beyond faculty presentations and chats, much other lifelong learning and professional development opportunities exist for clubs to offer local alumni. We have frequently heard that alumni most want to hear from other alumni. Who do you (or who does someone in your network) know locally who could share their professional expertise with your alumni club?
Michigan Ross can also assist clubs that would like to invite very highly placed Michigan alumni to speak, serve on a panel, or engage in some other way with the club. Please reach out to us at MiRossAlumniClubs@umich.edu to facilitate these connections.
Here are a variety of ideas that other clubs have employed to further the clubs’ lifelong learning programming.
- Alumni/Industry panel discussion (or debate) relevant to your region focused on a specific theme or topics
- The themes that some Michigan Ross clubs have spotlighted are entrepreneurship, healthcare, investing/finance, energy, real estate, life stage-specific career development, leadership, women in business, and minorities in business.
- Faculty or local alumni book release meet-up, discussion group, or fireside chat
- A themed series of breakfasts, coffees, lunches, dinners, or seminars with invited speakers – which could potentially be hosted at the feature speakers’ companies
- Tours of local corporations, real estate developments, or start-ups by the founder or upper-level company leadership
- Economic outlook report by an (alum) industry expert
- Retirement/investment planning seminars
- Build a viewing event around a Michigan Ross livestream talk or presentation
- Lunchtime or evening professional networking/speed networking reception or cocktail event for alumni in a single or related industries. If hosting at a firm or business, potentially have a partner, CEO, President or other upper management speak.
- Collaborate with the Michigan Ross Alumni Career Consulting Associate Director to host a career-focused webinar or in-person talk for local alumni. Email MiRossAlumniClubs@umich.edu to enquire about availability.
- Organize industry-specific peer counseling or mentoring groups
- Depending on the size of your club, host job seekers’ meetings
- Fireside career chats: Invite 1+ senior- or mid-level manager(s) to speak about his or her career progression to new alumni to the field and provide insight regarding stable versus changing industry trends
Social events allow alumni to meet and mingle in a more relaxed setting. We have found that traditional social activities appeal most to younger alumni, alums with flexible personal/family schedules, and new alumni to the region. However, thinking outside the box to include creative venue locations (such as museums or cultural hotspots) and family-friendly options/times can encourage a wider segment of the alumni population to participate.
Traditional social activities:
- Happy hour at an interesting local venue or business*
- Brewery tour or wine tasting
- Annual club holiday party
- Summer BBQ
- Social, happy hour, or reception held in conjunction with national or regional conferences hosted in your locale or for your affiliation*
- Theater or symphony ticket in conjunction with a talk with either the conductor or the play’s director, producer, actors, etc. (club purchases group tickets to sit as cohort; each alum pays for own ticket)
- An “after hours” social event at a local museum
- Football tailgates* — see event planning template
- Michigan sports watch parties* — see event planning template
- Golf outings
- Cycling or hiking meet-up at a popular outdoor spot
- Professional sporting event outings (in which folks are responsible for paying for their own ticket but sit as a Ross cohort)
- Seasonal activities such as a picnic in the park, apple picking, or outdoor ice skating where families with children are welcomed and encouraged to attend
- Ross meet-up at a popular local (and family-friendly) festival
- Guided museum tour
- Morning, afternoon, or full-day hiking, canoeing/kayaking, or camping trip (among outdoor activities)
Activities with a Student Outreach Component:
- Summer intern picnics, BBQs, and other networking activities that allow current Ross students to network with alumni and fellow interns in your city/region
- Student trek networking receptions and happy hours
- These requests from students for an alumni club to co-sponsor a student/alumni happy hour occurs most often in late October when student clubs conduct their treks around the nation and globe, and in March/April, when MBA MAP teams travel to their sponsored project destinations worldwide.
- Admitted student coffees or receptions, with FTMBA Admissions team support, during high-priority business school decision/acceptance periods (January for Round 1 admits; March for Round 2 admits)
- Accepted student send-off: In which the alumni clubs help local admits/new students celebrate their impending departure for Michigan Ross (no later than the end of July)
- New Ross graduates/alumni welcome reception / happy hour / BBQ
Volunteering and Community Service:
- Organize a volunteer event with a local non-profit or charity organization.
- Some clubs have formed long partnerships with Habitat for Humanity, local soup kitchens or donation centers, and environmental awareness organizations like a wildlife refuge, local habitat clean-up/restoration group, or zoo.
*Co-Sponsored, AA-UM, or Michigan Ross-hosted events:
Many of these activities can be transformed into a co-sponsored event with another local business school alumni club, AA-UM club, or, potentially, a department within Michigan Ross. Michigan Ross will also communicate to you the region-specific activities the school is hosting. Some examples of both include:
- Piggybacking off bigger AA-UM sporting or networking events in your region to organize attendance by a cohort of Ross alumni
- Mixers with local peer b-school alumni clubs (multiple business school-branded events may even be more likely to attract corporate sponsorship, speakers and attendance)
- If you are a Tier 3, 4, or international club, opening your event to all University of Michigan alumni in the region (though you may consider charging non-Ross alums a different/higher event fee)
- RossTalks, which is hosted entirely by Michigan Ross, visits many cities in which there is a Ross alumni club (RossTalks is a series of worldwide opportunities for alumni to learn and have a conversation with Michigan Ross faculty or alumni and guest speakers about the latest business research, ventures, trends and tools)
Consider repeating successful events, but continue to regularly assess the popularity of your activities – as well as local alumni demographics.
Does your area have more families and older alumni? Regular happy hours will likely not be as successful or realistic as professional networking and lifelong learning activities or family-friendly programming. Mostly younger alumni? Socials, mixers, and football watch parties may be more appealing.
Finally, whenever you cross paths with a local Michigan Ross alum, don’t miss an opportunity to discuss the type of club programming that they would be interested in attending.