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Success Story

How UMGC Improves Outcomes for Online Students & Alumni at Scale

The University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) was founded more than 75 years ago and primarily serves the higher education needs of working adults and military service members. Today, UMGC is the largest provider of postsecondary education in Maryland and continues its global tradition with online and hybrid courses. It offers more than 175 classroom and service locations worldwide and more than 125 degrees and certificates backed by the reputation of a state university and the University System of Maryland.








The University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) galvanizes their online and hybrid communities of nontraditional students and alumni with their CareerQuest platform, powered by PeopleGrove. The platform helps increase student and alumni engagement, encourage underrepresented groups to take advantage of experiential opportunities, and provide career services at scale.

Supporting hundreds of thousands of non-traditional students and alumni worldwide with PeopleGrove

Cathy Francois, Director of Career Services at UMGC, helps the university support Maryland’s working adult population and military service members around the world. UMGC provides accessible education to a diverse community of learners, and the Career Services department specifically seeks to provide relevant job opportunities and resources to students and alumni.

With a growing population of 88,000 students, there was a need to service students at scale and meet them where they are. For example, UMGC has a large population of military service members in Asia, working parents, and students who live in remote places – all with the need to connect and seek job opportunities. CareerQuest, powered by PeopleGrove, has been instrumental to the department and larger university community functioning as a digital space, or online student union, for students and alumni to access resources and support from faculty, staff, and even employers. 

“CareerQuest gives our students and alumni a space to connect with one another, and with faculty and staff, to seek jobs, download resources, and participate in various programs we offer," explains Francois. “We’ve been very successful in getting our students and alumni engaged on the platform.” 

PeopleGrove allows us to build and leverage our brand affinity...Because of CareerQuest, I’m excited that we can truly support one of our tenets – creating equitable access for our students.
Cathy Francois
Director of Career Services

As a cornerstone of UMGC's support ecosystem, the platform helps address specific challenges and driving outcomes for students and alumni. Francois shares insights into how PeopleGrove is helping underrepresented groups, particularly first-generation students, access opportunities. "55% of our students identify as first-generation students," Francois notes. UMGC leverages PeopleGrove to level the playing field, providing networking opportunities and resources to all. “Because of CareerQuest, I’m excited that we can truly support one of our tenets – creating equitable access for our students.” 

Driving Engagement: Buy-in is Key to Student Success

UMGC's success with PeopleGrove extends beyond implementation; it's about integration and buy-in from stakeholders across campus. When CareerQuest rolled out, Francois made a pointed effort to involve different work groups across campus, including advancement, alumni relations, student engagement teams, the Honors Society, volunteer programs, and the Mentor Community Connect Program.

UMGC also integrates career services within the classroom through CareerQuest, offering a career exploration gateway course for new students. In it, students are encouraged to join CareerQuest, to engage with alumni and mentorship programs. This has been particularly important for underrepresented groups, notes Francois, who may not have social capital and inherited connections needed to complete networking assignments.

CareerQuest: Adding Value to the UMGC brand

As CareerQuest continues to grow, Francois sees the platform as a unique way to identify the UMGC brand. For Francois and other stakeholders across campus, CareerQuest allows students to seamlessly transition to alumni and have the opportunity to give back as a mentor. The “career services for life” component of the UMGC platform allows alumni on the platform to feel engaged with their institution at any point throughout their lives.

A pillar of UMGC's brand is a commitment to post-grad outcomes, and PeopleGrove plays a pivotal role in elevating the institution's brand. "PeopleGrove allows us to build and leverage our brand affinity," Francois emphasizes. Career Quest serves as more than just a networking hub or job portal; it's a gateway to lifelong connections and opportunities. UMGC's promise of career services for life fosters loyalty and engagement among students and alumni, reinforcing the institution's brand identity. 

Francois has seen career confidence and career readiness in students significantly increase due to the engagement with resources PeopleGrove facilitates. From addressing initial goals to driving post grad outcomes for students and alumni, PeopleGrove has become an integral part of UMGC's support ecosystem, empowering student success via a connected, online community made possible by scalable technology. 


For a more in-depth conversation with UMGC’s Cathy Francois, watch her strategy-oriented conversation Engage Online Students with a Virtual Campus.