Evanston, IL – Northwestern University Athletics Tuesday unveiled ‘Branch,’ its exclusive career community app, in partnership with Grafted, a Charlotte, NC-based ed tech company. Through the partnership, Northwestern Athletics will leverage the company’s video-first technology platform to create and maximize opportunities for professional exploration, networking, mentorship, and career mobility.
Grafted’s technology platform is the underlying system enabling Northwestern to provide Branch to current student-athletes, former student-athletes and employer partners. Branch integrates greater access to both career exploration and career opportunities for all NU student-athletes. By investing in the Branch app, Northwestern Athletics will leverage the power of its global alumni network to support all Wildcats in their professional journey.
Despite only launching in March of 2020, Grafted is quickly being adopted by forward-thinking athletic departments across the country, including those in the Big Ten, SEC, and Conference USA.
“The commitment we make to our Wildcats is not only to support their pursuit of excellence in the classroom, the community and in competition as student-athletes, but also in preparation for professional life after graduation,” said Combe Family Vice President for Athletics and Recreation Dr. Derrick Gragg. “This partnership allows us to provide a new level of service to both our students and alumni in myriad industries around the world. We now have an efficient way to connect Wildcats to the information, resources and people who can help turn their career ambitions to reality.”
“We pride ourselves on being the best player development staff in the country, both on and off the field. Grafted and Branch are another example of the world-class support offered to and invested in our incredible student-athletes. This app will help us leverage the strongest and most successful alumni community in college athletics, providing instant access and meaningful connection points to all Wildcats, no matter where they are in the world or in their careers.”
Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald
In the Branch app, Northwestern student-athletes have access to hundreds, and soon to be thousands, of on-demand videos, produced by Wildcats alums. Students can then easily move from content to connection via in-app direct messaging, offering unprecedented ease of access to Wildcats alumni eager to help their fellow ‘Cats pursue careers. Like a personalized career concierge, the Grafted technology algorithmically curates relevant career content and likely-helpful connections for each athlete. As NU staff see student activity on the app, they also can connect students with relevant opportunities.
“The Branch app is truly a force multiplier for the Kabiller NU for Life team. It’s a blend between TikTok and LinkedIn, allowing our students to fit career prep into their busy schedules,” Amanda Brown, Assistant A.D. (Career Enhancement & Employer Relations) said. “Grafted also recognizes the unique needs of our athletes, not forcing them into a one-size-fits-all career curriculum. The app constantly adapts to their evolving interests.”
Content on the Branch app is automatically tagged and organized based on its subject matter, which further allows Brown and her team to create custom student-athlete experiences. In this way, Branch is a hub for valuable content on all professional development priorities, including:
- Career exploration and mobility
- Interview prep
- Alumni engagement
Northwestern Athletics invites all current and alumni student-athletes to download the Branch app and join the community. As each new user joins, they are invited to tell their story through several video prompts about their Northwestern experience, career journey and how they can help others on the app. With each new video, the searchable database of career content grows. Meanwhile, Kabiller NU for Life is inviting alumni to be part of specialized broadcasts where they can field student questions and speak in-depth on their areas of career expertise. Each of their answers is then added to the app’s collection of career content.
Additionally, every piece of career content on the Branch app represents an opportunity. Branch automatically recommends relevant connections, including NU employer partners, and makes it easy to connect with those individuals. In other words, as students learn how to build their professional network, they are empowered to leverage that network where it matters most: to obtain meaningful career opportunities.