sallylaptopA stereotype surrounding students today, based on their millennial label, is that they don’t know how to navigate the world without technology. However, the Association for Rice Alumni has shown that they understand and support the opportunities that accessible technology allows.

Sallyportal, Rice’s new online networking system, invites students, alumni, parents, faculty and staff to interact “in the name of providing Rice students and recent graduates with the greatest possible professional edge.” Since it debuted Oct. 12, the site has attracted 4,360 users (65 percent alumni, 28 percent students and 7 percent faculty, staff and parents).

As an English major considering graduate school and teaching, I believe being able to contact current grad students and teachers would be a great help for my future plans. There are plenty of opportunities for conversations, hopefully leading to mentorships, internships and general advice. While this is a promising start, I’d like to offer some early feedback and suggestions.

  • Improve post organization

The message board gives users a place to post what they’re looking for or can do for others, but it’s currently difficult to search — and find — applicable posts in the current format. I’d prefer to see separate message boards for different majors and interests, allowing students to find potential mentors more easily.

  • Incorporate more events

What kind of events fit into the Sallyportal mission? Rice’s Center for Career Development already hosts job fairs and internship fairs, and they post that information on their website. I think this is where interest-specific groups might be useful. If a groups based on certain majors or careers could set up their own events, Sallyportal really would be a significant addition to the opportunities currently listed on other Rice career development sites

  • Emphasize alumni-to-student link

This is the area of Sallyportal’s greatest potential. Students interested in teaching, for example, could ask current teachers for advice on finding jobs, getting through the first year of teaching and adapting to new teaching styles. Because so many jobs require employees to learn as they go, the advice of alumni who have gone through those experiences is invaluable.

The site has a lot of potential, and I trust that eventually, students and alumni of all disciplines and interests will be able to help Rice students of every major gain new opportunities.
— Taegan Howells ’18