In a Q&A series with people involved in the Ourschool program, Caroline Milburn, Ourschool’s CEO and co-founder, talks to:

Eliza Campbell, Alumni and Marketing Coordinator at Hampton Park Secondary College

Eliza, you’ve got a marketing degree and the alumni program coordinator job is your first job out of university, can you tell me what inspired you to apply for this job? What inspired me was the impact I believed the program could have on students and the fact that when I was in high school, I didn’t have anything like this program.

Knowing how inspiring it could be, how much it could help the students by showing them different options and different pathways and careers, it’s something I really would have loved to have had when I was in school. Knowing that I could help with that was definitely a plus.

What have been the positive impacts of the program on teachers and students that you’ve seen since you’ve started the role? In regard to teachers, just the overwhelmingly positive response. They’re just so happy and eager to have alumni back to the school and have something different to give to the students instead of just talking at them for an hour.

Instead, they can have alumni come into their class and have them share their experiences and give the students something different for a day.

And what about the impact on students? It’s definitely been the impact of seeing students go up and ask the alumni questions. Their questions are not necessarily questions about what the alumni are doing now, the questions are often about how the alumni got there, what they did in uni, what were their subjects like, even what they did in high school.

What are some of the challenges of being an alumni program coordinator at a school? Chasing up the alumni. It’s not too hard making the initial contact, but it can take a couple of days or a couple of weeks to get the response from alumni. So, making sure that you’re really preparing ahead of time is definitely something that has been a big challenge and something you need to make sure you do.

In terms of liaising with teachers, again, it’s the same thing. Sometimes you just have to chase them up. Obviously, some teachers are really enthusiastic.

But sometimes you’ll have an alum who you know is perfect to come back to a class and who you know would be amazing to speak to a class, so chasing up the teachers, telling them ‘Look, this is going to be really good, this is going to be so valuable’ is just something you need to get used to.

What’s surprised you about working in a school, because this is your first job, isn’t it? It is, yes, my first job in a school. I’ve never worked in any kind of education (setting) before.

Something that surprised me, in a really good way, was just how enthusiastic the students are about it all. Seeing them want to talk to the alumni and want to ask them questions and want to learn and want to know things has been, in a good way, really surprising.

This transcript has been edited for clarity and brevity. Hampton Park Secondary College receives Ourschool’s Coach service to help grow its alumni program.