No matter where you are in your life – or in the world – there’s value in becoming part of an alumni chapter or network. If you’re a new graduate, the networking opportunities are priceless. But perhaps less obviously, it’s also about friendship, lifelong learning and rich conversations with people who share the same passion.
Each chapter and network brings together like-minded alumni based on their industry discipline, where they live or work, or an area of special interest. Which makes joining a chapter or network a great way to stay connected with your fellow alumni and the wider La Trobe community.
Through La Trobe, you can join alumni groups focused on engineering and technology, law, government, art history, social work, football and more. If you studied at one of La Trobe’s regional Victorian campuses, you can join chapters based in Mildura, Shepparton or Bendigo. Or, if you’re living overseas, you can help us launch our exciting new international chapters in 2019!
Still not sure if it’s right for you? We asked distinguished alumna Sandra Nicholson for her personal take on the perks of joining an alumni group. As outgoing Chair of La Trobe’s Art History Chapter – a group with more than 60 alumni members and over 21 years’ history – she’s well-placed to give you an insider’s account.
1. Be welcomed by a community of mentors
As a member of a La Trobe alumni chapter or network, you’ll be welcomed into a group of mentors very willing to share their experience and knowledge. In Sandra’s opinion, it’s one of the best ways to grow your professional network.
‘If you want to get on in your field, join an alumni chapter or network. You’ll meet people who move in the same sphere, people who’ve ‘been there, done that’ and who have the best contacts you’ll ever need.’
Sandra gives the example of a graduate aiming for a career as an art critic or writer. By joining the Art History Chapter, they’d meet PhD students, practising artists, ex-lecturers and authors.
‘If a young person is hoping to write about art – whether that’s a thesis, a book or a blog – they can easily tap into the world of publishing through our chapter. There’s a wealth of skills and knowledge in the group and they’re so generous with sharing it,’ she says.
‘And that carries across to our outings, too, where artists in their studios are so generous with their time and knowledge. Wherever we go, people are happy to be asked about what they’re doing.’
2. Receive invitations to special events
Each alumni chapter and network has a program of exclusive events where members can socialise with others in their field, city, or area of interest. These events give you the chance to mingle with alumni, meet influential experts and continue the lifelong learning you started at La Trobe.
For example, our Art History Chapter hosts an annual public lecture at the NGV (the Rae Alexander Lecture, now in its 21st year), as well as visits to artist studios, gallery exhibitions and private art collections. In 2018 alone they’ve gone behind-the-scenes at the Stokes Collection, the Justin Art House Museum, Duldig Studio and viewed the NGV’s Collection in storage.
‘We have an event at least once a month. We see different artists practice their art in different media, receive custom talks and the feedback is always very positive,’ Sandra says.
‘Demand for our events is high among alumni members. We had to run two different times for the viewing of the NGV’s Collection, there were so many of us!’
3. Give back to current La Trobe students
Think back to when you were in your first year of university, just starting out in your field of study. Now imagine how it would feel to know La Trobe alumni had supported you on your journey, because of their shared passion for your field of study.
Demonstrating that feeling of care is one of the highlights of being in an alumni chapter or network. For members of the Art History Chapter, it’s about showing their support for students of visual art at La Trobe through fundraising and events.
The Art History Chapter offers an annual acquisitive prize for a student at the Bendigo campus, buying their work of art for the La Trobe Art Collection. They also give a $500 Summer School Prize to the most outstanding student, in honour of La Trobe’s annual summer workshops, run in partnership with the NGV.
In 2019, the Chapter will sponsor the Trendall Fellowship, which supports a scholar from Italy to carry out research in Melbourne using the facilities of La Trobe’s Trendall Research Centre for Ancient Mediterranean Studies, which focuses on Greek and Roman art and archaeology.
‘It doesn’t matter which alumni group you join, people are prepared to give back,’ says Sandra.
4. Keep in touch with your peers
As well as growing your network, being part of an alumni group also keeps you connected with La Trobe and the friendships you made there. The Art History Chapter has allowed Sandra to stay in touch with people who helped create her lifelong memories.
‘You get to see people you studied with, what they’ve done and where they’ve gone. Through the chapter, I met a woman I first studied art history with and it’s been lovely catching up,’ she says.
‘La Trobe is a unique, close-knit university and it leaves you with a positive feeling once you’ve been there. I loved studying art history at La Trobe so much, and the chapter is a bit like going back into class – sometimes we still don’t agree, but never mind!’
5. Shape the future of La Trobe University
It’s well known that, united together, people can have more influence than individuals acting on their own. By joining an alumni chapter or network, you’ll add your voice to important issues affecting the University, support an outstanding experience for students and help make La Trobe the best institution it can be.
In 2018, the Art History Chapter successfully lobbied for the return of art history subjects at La Trobe. And with staff from the La Trobe Art Institute attending Chapter meetings, there’s open dialogue between the Chapter and those responsible for setting La Trobe’s art strategy.
Whether you want to meet new alumni, or simply show pride in your education, an alumni chapter or network is a great way to stay connected with La Trobe.
If you’d like to join an existing chapter or network, or if you’re interested in starting a new one, we’d love to hear from you – get in touch today!