In an effort to connect students and alumni, Yale undergraduate and graduate students will soon have access to an updated database of alumni willing to connect with them, as well as access to a series of events to meet alumni in person.

Students and Alumni of Yale and the Yale Alumni Association, as well as Careers, Life, and Yale have offered a variety of engagements to students in recent weeks, including alumni teas, networking opportunities and career leadership panels.

“The opportunity for students to gain wisdom from alums is so important,” said Stephen Blum ’74, YAA senior director of strategic initiatives. “There are 175,000 alums … if even a small percentage enthusiastically [share] what they’ve learned about life, it’s an incredible asset for students.”

In 2020, YAA plans to launch Cross Campus, an online database meant to facilitate connections between students — undergraduate and graduate — and alumni. Blum told the News that after previewing different vendors, Yale chose to work with PeopleGrove, which several other universities use for similar purposes.

The database will allow for students to make personal and professional profiles that express their interests and will help them connect with alumni based on various characteristics and preferences — such as the fields they work in, the cities they live in or the life skills that they are willing to share with students.

“Cross Campus will help alums and students create an even closer Yale community, understand career paths better and gain life skills,” Blum said. “Yalies will have a new and robust way to exchange wisdom and create meaningful dialogues — either short-term or long-lasting.”

Blum noted that Cross Campus would be a resource more useful and tailored to the Yale community than traditional sites such as LinkedIn. The database will replace an existing YAA-sponsored pilot mentoring program that has been in place for the past couple of years.

Careers, Life, and Yale, which is sponsored and supported by YAA, also recently advertised to the student body its eighth annual leadership dinner, to be held on the weekend of Nov. 1 and 2. The dinner will host alumni for an 11-hour workshop, where they will reflect on leadership experiences in their careers and work with students in small groups to talk about what leadership requires.

“Alums who come back to campus to lead discussions at our forum are willing to open up, to be transparent, to go far beyond their resumes — beyond the what — and to dive deeply into the how and the why of their career paths and their own learning of what it means to lead,” Blum said.

STAY has recently become active, revitalizing its webpage and hosting biweekly gatherings at Rose Alumni House. According to STAY Social Events Coordinator Wen Long Yang ’22, STAY has planned networking opportunities, leadership forums and social gatherings for the coming year to connect alumni and students. They will also pilot Cross Campus before it is released in full.

Their programming includes alumni teas, where an alumnus or alumna is invited to speak to any students who come. Last week, they hosted Yale Director of Special Assets Gena Lai ’95 as an alumni tea speaker, garnering about 25 attendees.

“The alumni tea with Gena Lai was eye-opening in that I learned the truth behind the phrase that the ability to ‘balance’ — whether it is the balancing of work life versus familiar duties or the balancing of working in a job that you are truly passionate about versus working in a job that gives you financial stability — is a skill that is required even after college ends,” Yang wrote in an email to the News.

The first Yale College students graduated in 1718.

Helena Lyng-Olsen |