Editor’s note: This story is part of The Daily Texan’s coverage of how coronavirus concerns are affecting UT-Austin. Read the rest of our coverage here.
Texas Exes has fast-tracked its alumni networking website to aid spring 2020 graduates as they enter the job market during the COVID-19 pandemic. The platform, called Hooked In, will be ready for use by the time seniors graduate in late May.
“(Seniors) are not going out into the world that we thought they would be going out into, so what we want to do is make a promise to that class,” said Summer Chandler, Texas Exes marketing manager. “We’re going to be here no matter what. We’ll do everything we can to support you.”
Hooked In aims to help provide jobs for students graduating into a time of high unemployment rates, Chandler said. It is similar to LinkedIn, and alumni can post job opportunities, provide mentoring and answer questions or connect students to people or businesses, she said.
Miranda Larralde, journalism and radio-television-film senior, said she looks forward to the networking opportunities Hooked In will provide.
“All seniors worked really hard to get to where we are today, and I’m sure lots of them want to be a part of that network,” Larralde said. “I know a lot of us weren’t expecting (the pandemic), but we were strong when we came in 2016, and we will be strong when we come out in 2020.”
Texas Exes is also mailing a commemorative gift to graduates that will arrive for the May 23 virtual commencement ceremony, Chandler said. Additionally, the alumni organization will be offering seniors 40% off the lifetime membership package they provide to graduates every year, she said. A lifetime membership typically costs $1000, or $600 with the senior discount and offers access to alumni events and University resources such as libraries, Chandler said.
“We can’t celebrate them in the way that we normally do with our events and all the things we do leading up to commencement,” Chandler said. “So we put a lot of thought into what kind of gifts would be meaningful and unique and inspired by those commencement traditions that are so important to Longhorns.”
Larralde said she is glad Texas Exes is doing their best to make graduation special.
“I felt very upset that almost a month and a half of my senior year was taken away in the very last stretch,” Larralde said. “The positive side is that, regardless of everything that’s going on in the world, all the seniors are graduating, and that’s still a huge accomplishment.”
Corporate communication senior Alison Guffey said she is a first-generation student, so she and her family were excited for graduation celebrations.
“This is a huge deal for me and my family,” Guffey said. “We were all super excited, and then for it to be canceled, which I understand totally, left me completely heartbroken. I wasn’t going to get to experience graduating quite the same way that everybody else gets to.”