Inside The Tent: Digital Career Development for Alumni, by Alumni

We are thrilled to announce the launch of our alumni portal: The Tent. At Startup Institute, we have a talented, ambitious, and passionate alumni community. Our nearly 1000 full-time graduates have gone on to build products, grow companies, found new ventures, and make a real impact on the world. These people also pay-it-forward—a pillar of our SI community. They serve as mentors to new students, hire many of them, and leverage their connections to support the growth of the innovation economy. And, they never stop learning.

When Diane Hessan came on board as CEO last year, she fervently championed her vision for an online alumni experience—something that would truly embodied our mantra: “Startup Institute is for life.”

Our vision at Startup Institute is about having thousands of alumni who are making a dent in the global innovation economy -- and who are stronger because of their connections to the SI network. Our new portal is Step One in that journey and we hope that everyone leverages it as much as possible.

[bctt tweet="We want alumni to increase their impact on #innovation by leveraging our #network- @DianeHessan "]

What’s inside The Tent? A collection of our many ethos as a progressive educational experience: lifelong learning, paying-it-forward, a rich and engaged community, plus a whole lot of people who truly love their careers. Inside The Tent, Startup Institute alumni can connect with each other around the world, post events, get inside access to job opportunities, ask questions, share insights, and learn about exclusive alumni perks.[bctt tweet=".@StartupInst launches product to support lifelong #careerdevelopment for #alumni" via="no"]

startup institute alumni
startup institute alumni

The Tent was made in dedication to our alumni—and our graduates played a huge role in developing it—from conception through to deployment. Alumni focus-groups assisted with ideation and decision-making about what features would be developed. We listened to what would be most valuable to them. In fact, two of the three-person development team that built the portal are graduates of SI: spring 2014 alumna and UX designer Lara Cavezza, and 2013 alumnus and web developer Chris Van Schyndel. We’ve also featured some of the original photography of summer 2014 alumna Mara Renz Smith.

According to Lara,

Most of our design choices were influenced by user testing with alumni. For example, the choice to feature alumni from each cohort in the hero image, color-coding the various features, and many of the content decisions were guided by alumni.

startup institute alumni
startup institute alumni

The portal’s name, “The Tent,” was suggested by  summer 2014 technical marketing alumnus Nick Moorhead—chosen as the clear winner after receiving  31 other crowdsourced ideas and votes from 200 alumni. As all SI graduates will know, the name pays homage to  the many intimate  “in the tent” fireside chats with company founders and CEOs. What happens in The Tent, stays in The Tent.

The making of The Tent has truly been a collective labor of love, and the vision doesn’t stop here. Upcoming iterations will add several additional features, such as integration with social networking sites, upvoting in the questions section, and a continued learning platform—enabling us to deliver on our promise to our graduates: learning for life.[bctt tweet="#TheTent is part of our promise to add lifelong value for #careerdevelopment" via="no"]