New Platform Olive Grove Fosters Connection When We Need It Most

Named for the College’s historic trees, Olive Grove is Scripps’ new online platform to help our community find meaningful connection

By Emily Glory Peters

Before the pandemic, relationship-building within the Scripps community was chiefly limited to what could be done in person and on campus. Now, with people thrust into a heavier reliance on the internet to stay connected, the College has fast-tracked a new way our community can thrive in a virtual space: Olive Grove.

“As an online networking platform, Olive Grove was inspired by the idea that we can reach every member of our community, including those who can’t be with us in the flesh—an idea that was accelerated by COVID-19,” explains Director of Alumnae Engagement Jess Butler ’09. “This is a way to build more meaningful connections without the restrictions of geography.”

Named for Scripps’ iconic olive trees, Olive Grove pulls together the best features of popular social platforms, but with a distinctly Scripps flair. Membership is free and offers access to a global network of Scripps students, alumnae, and families who can receive and offer “flash” mentoring (ad hoc support without long-term mentorship commitment), access job and recruiting prospects, join curated interest groups, and take advantage of Scripps-centric resources and discussion forums.

A Team Effort

Launching the platform was a cross-departmental undertaking. With support from donor gifts, the platform rollout was piloted by the Laspa Center for Leadership, along with the offices of Alumnae Engagement, Parent Engagement and Philanthropy, and Career Planning & Resources to ensure Olive Grove offered value to the broadest possible base. And while any member of the Scripps family can join, certain features were designed explicitly with students and alums in mind.

Ideal for Students Seeking Personal and Professional Guidance

“Olive Grove helps students dive into leadership and have conversations that extend beyond ‘What do you do for a living and how do I do it?’” explains Laspa Center Executive Director Vicki Klopsch. Curating these conversations is key for students who are new to or struggle with networking, she continues, noting they can begin by finding people with shared backgrounds, such as being BIPOC or a first-generation college student. Naturally, the platform also serves as an excellent resource for students in search of women leaders.

“Networking is a gendered and racial issue. By and large, when students network with leaders they’ll often encounter those who are white and male,” says Klopsch. “Here they can connect with people who share their identities and experiences.”

Olive Grove also supplies email templates to simplify outreach—and to level the playing field for students who may feel they don’t have a network of their own.

“It’s much less scary reaching out to an alum if you don’t have to start from scratch. The templates are a fantastic way to scaffold interactions and make people more accessible,” says CP&R Director Rachael Acello. And given that at least 70 percent of jobs come through networking according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, early practice is essential.

“Olive Grove helps ‘build the well before you need it.’ Students will be amazed at how willing Scripps alums are to help,” she says. “Whether you’re a first-year or a senior, here you can maximize your exposure to new people and ideas. Get on now—you’ll thank yourself later.”

Benefits for Alums and Families, Too

Olive Grove’s relationship-building benefits aren’t reserved for current students—they’re for alumnae, too, whose voices were included early in the rollout process.

“We partnered with a committee from the Alumnae Leadership Council for more than a year to determine how to make Olive Grove feel like Scripps, and not just another transactional platform. Our alums helped make this as inclusive as possible,” says Butler.

Parents were also included in a soft launch to flesh out valuable resources for them, with a focus on building exclusive groups just for families. “Parents have a Facebook page, but it’s limited in providing the community we envision,” Butler adds. “Here they can post jobs, internships, engage in discussion posts—they can even become mentors. It’s not limited to just alums.”

Unlike Facebook or LinkedIn, in Olive Grove the entire community will also find a compendium of Scripps resources segmented by audience, including self-care workshops, CP&R’s 2020 résumé book, the popular Career Conversations series and more. As an added bonus, Olive Grove members will have access to early registration for Scripps events before they’re available to the general public.

More to Come

Olive Grove has a bright future ahead. The College plans to debut a formal alum-to-alum mentorship program, plus exciting “experiential learning projects”—micro-projects offered to students year-round by alums and parents to help them build career competencies at a shorter burn than a typical summer internship. As with any social platform, its value ultimately lies in participation—and with Olive Grove, the members themselves.

“The beauty of Olive Grove is really in user intention. The College isn’t there to say who to connect with and how—you determine it. You can be really active and find friends in a city you just moved to or in a field you just started in; you can join a discussion board or two; you can make yourself available to offer help and let people come to you,” says Butler. “You have the power to build a host of connections in the Scripps ecosystem. Olive Grove is the venue.”

Olive Grove is free and open to any member of the Scripps community. To sign up today, visit Interested in making a gift to support future tools and programs like Olive Grove? Please click here.

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