Think back, and try to recall the nerves you were experiencing as you entered your graduate year of university. Can you remember the apprehension, the excitement, the uncertainty of it all? Even the most rare breed of student, one who is decided about their field and sure of their path, still must face endless twists, turns, and opportunities of difficult decision.
The Alumni Office and the Ron Joyce Centre for Business Studies (RJCBS) created the Career Mentorship Program in 2015. Upon acceptance to the program, graduates are interviewed about their professional aspirations and largest concerns for post-Convocation life. Then, after a summer's worth of anticipation, and a pod strategy session with RJCBS Director Dr. Sandy MacIver, the students enter a formal eight-month mentorship. The Alumni Office pairs each student with a former Allisonian in order to share their database of networks, tips, advice, and whatever tools they have amassed over a career.
"It takes advantage of two of our greatest strengths,” says MacIver. “One is that we have alumni who believe in this place and want to give back. And we have students who benefit from that personal contact and having a sounding board.”
In its second year, the program, like the students it seeks to help, is young and has much to learn. Successful mentors and mentees alike from the pilot seem to agree that the key to a mutually beneficial relationship is to approach it with honesty and an open mind.
Ellie Henry ('15) notes, "In the best mentorships there's an element of friendship. Its formality can be whatever you desire, but there's an interest in both personal and professional success. It was a constant, open line. I could ask her anything and she always responded very thoughtfully. She never looked down or made it seem like she was too busy."
Two mentors returning to the program, Sarah Dobrowolski ('07) and Justin Vaughan (’12), share the same view on the virtues that come along with handing their mentee puzzle pieces, but not solving it for them.
"It was a privilege to share the enthusiasm and excitement that goes along with finishing your undergraduate training, not necessarily giving advice but helping someone work through their own thought processes." says Dobrowolski.
Vaughan found pleasure in the reflection that accompanies the role.
"It was like being able to talk to myself three to four years ago,” says Vaughan. “It was nice to provide that direction to a student from the Maritimes, giving him any information and insight that I learned and to see what he does with it.”
Mentee Amber Fortin says her mentor helped her find confidence in her own abilities.
"He told me I was qualified for some of the jobs I was applying for and wasn’t sure about,” she says. “It made me relieved going into it and now, in the real world, I still have that reassurance.”
Interested in being a mentor? Contact Director of Alumni Relations Carolle de Ste-Croix at email@example.com.