Conceived as a digital platform for facilitating access to the Wellesley alumnae network, the Wellesley Hive was launched in May of 2017. Currently, 3613 users are registered on the Hive, including 2574 alumnae, 951 students and 88 faculty and staff members.
In January 2016, Christine Cruzvergara was hired as Wellesley’s first Associate Provost and Executive Director for Career Education. In an effort to assess the needs of the Wellesley community, Cruzvergara embarked on a listening tour across the campus. Following this series of discussions and open meetings, Cruzvergara recognized a recurring theme: students valued the strong alumnae network but were unsure of how to take advantage of it. The solution came in the form of the Hive.
Tess Mattern, Career Education’s Marketing and Digital Media Manager, described the Hive as a place for “alumnae and students who share their interests and identities…to ask questions, seek guidance, and discover pathways to professional aspirations.”
Similar to professional networking sites in the vein of LinkedIn, the Hive allows users to create profiles featuring career and biographical information. Profiles pages are then searchable through a number of filters, including “Industries of Expertise” and “Location.” According to Mattern, the Hive was the product of collaboration between Wellesley Career Education, the Wellesley College Alumnae Association, and the Mentorship Working Group, an ad-hoc committee of alumnae and students.
For Mairany Anaya ’18, the Hive has been a resource for her to make initial contact with alumnae within her intended career field.
“I reached out to this alum[na] to learn more about her experiences at Wellesley and how that led her to the job she is in today… I was mostly just hoping to learn more about the path that she took and how Wellesley influenced that path. In the future I do hope to form a mentor relationship with an alum,” Anaya said.
While the alumnae network can surely aid students and recent graduates in their job searches, the Hive was designed with all Wellesley community members in mind. First year Erica Maul ’21, who initially dismissed emails promoting the platform, ultimately registered on the Hive, encouraged by the participation of other first years.
“My classmate had [the Hive] opened on her browser and I really liked how simple the layout looked and was curious to try it. Another friend told me she had learned about cool summer opportunities after looking around a bit,” Maul commented.
However, Maul also noted that though she felt that there were many resources available to her on the Hive, “understanding which were the most relevant to me as a first year with my amount of experience was difficult.”
Mattern offered advice to students or alumnae hesitant to join the network.
“Wellesley alumnae within the Hive have all raised their hand and volunteered to support students and fellow alumnae. They are eager to meet you and help you along whatever journey you might be pursuing,” she said.
The Hive is meant to be highly adaptable to the needs of Wellesley students and alumnae in any stage of their careers. In addition, the digital platform allows for students and mentors to take advantage of the global scope of the Wellesley community; alumnae participating in the mentorship program represent 30 countries.
Luisa Bonillas ’94 serves on the Wellesley College Alumnae Association Board of Directors, and is currently active in mentorship through the Hive. She said she has personally used the alumnae network extensively and has made contacts with several people through Hive-generated suggestions.
“I think the mentorship program has amazing potential. It is something that can benefit everyone that is involved with the program. I currently mentor several alumnae in and out of my field,” Bonillas said.
For many students, however, opportunities offered on the Hive are not germane to their career and academic needs. Ariana Carter ’17 registered for the Hive but found she “never saw many people who seemed to be doing things [she is] interested in—environmental and outdoor work, mainly.”
Even so, students are hopeful that the Hive will become a larger part of the Wellesley network post-graduation. Erica Maul ’21 hopes that “it will give [her] more ideas and opportunities for employment, connections and civic engagement.”
The Hive is a product of multi-user input. Approximately 600 beta testers were involved in the initial states of the platform, and constant modification and evaluation of the resource is anticipated.
“As we learn from the way alumnae and students interact on the Hive, and as the workforce changes and evolves, we will continue to adjust the platform to meet Wellesley’s needs,” Mattern said.
The Hive is off to a steady start. To date, over 150 mentorship relationships have been formed, and over 1700 messages have been sent through the platform. Career Education is confident the Hive will become a powerful tool in conjunction with the other resources offered. “By learning from one another on the Wellesley Hive, students can strengthen the Wellesley network and their own network of support along their career journeys,” Mattern said.