The Great DUSP MeetUp: Empowering Alumni-Student Action

The blog of the MIT Department of Urban Studies & Planning Alumni-Student Group

DUSP Community Survey results (March/April 2009)

First, thank you to everyone who participated in the survey. The time and thought you put into your responses was tremendous, and it is very much appreciated.

The Basics

What is the purpose of the survey?

The survey investigates how members of the MIT DUSP community use online tools to network within and beyond DUSP, look for jobs, post jobs, stay in touch with other alums, etc. The findings are being used to help support the creation of the Alumni-Student Group and to inform its members about how communications and networking by and among DUSP, current students, and alums, happen, and how they can be improved. Depending on needs, this could include both private and semi-private DUSP- and MIT-centric platforms, as well as public and semi-public platforms like Facebook and Linkedin.

Who took part?

167 current students, recent alums, and established alums (graduated pre-2003) took the online survey in March 2009. Most responses (70%) were from current students or recent alums, perhaps indicating that older alums are not using DUSP/MIT online tools and/or were not aware about the survey as a result.  However, the relatively low participation of established alums might be due to the way in which outreach was conducted.  The survey was first advertised via the MIT DUSP Community Group on LinkedIn.com, Plaza, and the duspstu mailing list.  Nearly a week later, it was advertised via the mailing lists of MCP’99 and the MIT DUSP Alumni Group on Facebook.com.  The survey sponsors do not know if the survey was advertised on any class email listserve beyond MCP’99.

March/April 2009 Survey: participants by status.

March/April 2009 Survey: participants by status. (Click to expand)

The majority of responses come from members of the LinkedIn DUSP group, 66%, so the responses have a bias towards existing LinkedIn users.

What We Found

Key findings

  • Current students and recent alums report connections to the DUSP community through online tools, while established alums are not using these tools to keep in touch with DUSP.
  • Alums are using LinkedIn and Facebook tools more than DUSP/MIT services such as Plaza and the Infinite Connection.
  • A number of alums mentioned that they were unsatisfied by their current means for keeping in touch with  both the department and each other.

How do DUSPers keep in touch with each other?

LinkedIn and Facebook are the most popular online platform for professional networking, with 48% and 23% of primary use.

Plaza and the Infinite Connection are less used as primary methods but are used in conjunction with other tools by around half of current students and recent alums. Only a handful of established alums use Infinite Connection and Plaza, suggesting either lower usage historically or a drift away from DUSP and MIT  tools over time.

An open question about keeping in touch and satisfaction with the available tools produced a range of responses.  Most respondents reported relying on personal, alumni class listserve, and official department emails (64%) and Facebook (39%).  However, with regard to satisfaction, most respondents said they were unsatisfied (21%); a few respondents said they were satisfied (6%) and very satisfied (3%).

How do DUSPers look for jobs?

More than 50% of current students and recent alums identified email listservs and forwards as their primary method of looking for job postings, followed by Plaza (more than 44%). Most established alums have not looked for a job within the past year, but when they do look for work, they primarily use email listservs and forwards.

Plaza is the most popular location to post jobs, but only by 22% of respondents. Most have not posted jobs anywhere in the past year.

Why are DUSPers on LinkedIn?

The top uses identified for LinkedIn are keeping in touch with classmates (73%) and networking (69%). Fewer responses identified posting resumes (33%), reviewing others’ resumes (20%) and discussions (15%).

Suggestions for building DUSP’s online community

An open-ended question about possible improvements to the DUSP Community Group on LinkedIn produced some common themes –

  • More job postings
  • An improved discussion forum, with particular regard to connections and relevance to the professional world
  • Updates on professional placements
  • Build the member network

What the Survey Results Mean
(
and Why They’re Posted Here)

The results from the survey indicate some potential for improvements to DUSP’s alum interactions. Specifically, while MIT- and DUSP-centric platforms are used by current students and recent alumni, DUSP would benefit in the long-term from a stronger presence on networks that are more commonly used (for example, Facebook).

A current-student working group emerged from DUSP Town Hall in the fall of 2008, and in early 2009, began to consider how to improve the way career development is done at DUSP. The student working group quickly realized that this inherently meant facilitating interactions between current students and alums. There also needed to be a way for students to communicate, to the DUSP community, the changes sought and any progress made — and to seek feedback from alums.

The timing of the DUSP Community Survey presented an opportunity for alums and current students to collaborate for sustainable improvements to the relationship among DUSP, its alums, and the students. The Great DUSP MeetUp is the result of this need for collaboration, transparency, and above all, communication. This survey has served as a starting point for understanding priorities, and also what information we still need.

Download the survey results

Download pdfs of the survey summaries, both in full and crosstabbed according to student-alumni status: current student, recent alumni, established alumni.

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