Lauren Rabaino

A year after its launch, PolyLink, Cal Poly’s alumni networking Web site, has experienced great success with over 9,000 alumni subscribed and more on the way. Subscribers to PolyLink range from graduates from the class of 2008 to as far back as graduates from 1937. PolyLink enables alumni to reconnect and network among each other in a safe online environment.

The Web site has only been around for a year but the idea came well before that. “We met about three or four years ago to start an online community for alumni because universities are doing that across the U.S.,” said Teresa Hendrix, editor of PolyLink and 1985 journalism graduate.

Before the site existed, the alumni association would send out directory books to alumni. PolyLink received a grant from the California State University system to start the Web site and began to plan upgrades to the alumni network.

“We went through a process of looking at other universities and seeing what they do and who they used and then we picked a vendor,” Hendrix said.

With similarities to Facebook.com and LinkedIn.com, PolyLink can be used however an alumnus wants; each user has full control over how much or how little information is on their personal page.

“PolyLink offers something that none of the others do; a tight-knit community of trusted Poly alums, a way to reconnect with classmates, and ways and information to strengthen our ties to Cal Poly,” said Christine Chau, a 1995 computer science graduate.

Site safety is a big concern among alumni. Before a subscriber is given a personal web page, all of their information is verified. Every user must have attended Cal Poly and no one can sign up anonymously.

Accessibility is another important factor. “If we are doing something for our alumni, we have to work for the class of 2008 and the class of 1937,” Hendrix said.

The site is free and can be used for both social and business networking.

PolyLink has many useful tools for helping alumni maneuver around the site. They can search by names of classmates, majors and graduation dates. Since many students leave San Luis Obispo upon graduation, PolyLink also allows users to search for alumni in their area.

Alumni can stay informed about what is happening on campus with the online newsletter feature. “They want to read about other alumni in the news,” Hendrix said.

Members can also upload their current or college pictures to their personal page or submit them to the University Photo Galleries for all to see. Hendrix selects a photo of the month to feature.

“We also wanted to promote the real strong tradition of Cal Poly grads hiring Cal Poly grads,” Hendrix said. So far 1,000 alumni are signed up for informal mentoring of other grads.

With businesses always looking for interns, PolyLink plans to work with Career Services in the future to make students accessible for internship opportunities.

Each graduating class will have their names and degree information on the site automatically but it is up to the individual to sign up for PolyLink to use it.

Those alumni looking to sign up for PolyLink can visit the website at www.calpolylink.com.

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