Thanks to Vixens helping Vixens, Sweet Briar is the sixth-ranked college on the networking website Alumnifire and is still moving up. Its position places the College ahead of much larger institutions such as Notre Dame, the University of Pennsylvania and Syracuse University.
The ranking is determined by the number of people who are registered on the website. By registering, alumnae agree to assist fellow alumnae and students through the platform. The site lets Vixens choose areas where they can help, such as offering internships or job shadowing, reviewing resumes, informational interviews or general career counseling. Members also select how often they are willing to be contacted for help by others in the network.
Sweet Briar was among the first handful of colleges and universities to create a community on the website, even before Alumnifire officially went live in May 2015. Sweet Briar’s site soft-launched in January with a small number of alumnae and students and grew organically until Alumnifire’s May launch. Since then, more than 350 alumni communities have made requests to join the platform, according to Andrew Margie, who developed the site with Trip Tate.
Margaretta Colangelo ’87, a tech investor with 25 years in the software industry, started Sweet Briar’s Alumnifire page. She continues to moderate it along with a Sweet Briar alumnae group on LinkedIn.
“Sweet Briar has thousands of living alumnae spanning generations who have extremely valuable expertise to share with each other. They are successful women who are established in their professions, and many of them are willing to help students and young alumnae,” Colangelo said.
“When Alumnifire’s founders demoed the site for me, I instantly recognized the potential for Sweet Briar. In the first six months, over nine hundred Vixens have joined. Five hundred and nineteen have offered informational interviews, four hundred and seven have offered job shadowing, and a hundred and six have expressed interest in hiring Sweet Briar students as interns. These numbers validate the value of Alumnifire and demonstrate the power of the Sweet Briar alumnae network.”
What is Alumnifire, exactly? A newcomer to the social media scene, the platform is designed specifically to allow affinity groups to create an online community where its members can readily connect to and support one another.
In May, creators Margie and Tate told Forbes magazine they built Alumnifire out of frustration with how difficult it was to tap their own alumni networks using existing tools such as LinkedIn, Facebook and their colleges’ alumni databases. You might find a person with the right connections, but it requires a “cold” call to someone who may or may not be open to hearing from you.
Margie and Tate’s idea is that each community is built by alumni, or in Sweet Briar’s case, alumnae, for other alumnae. Anyone can start a community by selecting from the colleges and universities listed on the homepage or by requesting that an organization be added. The site isn’t limited to higher education institutions. It goes live when enough members have joined.
When you create an account, you can choose to sign in via Facebook, LinkedIn or by email. Using Facebook or LinkedIn syncs that account with Alumnifire, automatically populating your profile.
Additional features of the site include posting or finding jobs and internships, discussion groups and a search tool that lets you find Vixens of any stripe — whether you’re looking for riders, tap club members, athletes or anyone within 100 miles of your location.