(Guest post by Kelly French, manager of The Space, Wofford’s professional development center. She’s also a career coach in The Space to: Prepare. You can reach Kelly at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Wofford’s Alumni Mentoring Program is a treasure trove of information for students. More than one hundred Wofford alums have generously agreed to mentor Wofford students.
Exactly what type of commitment does this entail? It depends on the mentor.
Usually it’s answering occasional questions from students who are interested in knowing more about a specific career field. Mentors can give students an idea of what to expect if they choose to pursue a particular career. They may give advice about things students can do to prepare while they are still in school. They can share firsthand knowledge of things that were helpful for them personally along the way and possibly caution students against less-than-beneficial options.
Mentors may meet with students on campus, at a local coffee shop, or even via Skype. The mentoring relationship may consist strictly of an occasional email. Mentors may choose to offer students an internship or shadowing opportunity. They may also opt to introduce students to other professionals in the field.
The mentoring program does not require a huge time commitment for either party. I have found that people who are passionate about what they are doing can’t help but share that with others. There is a sense of pride in helping a student narrow their focus to hone in on a career field of interest.
We encourage students to contact and begin to establish relationships with mentors soon after they arrive at Wofford. Not only is this “inside information” helpful for students, but it is also a wonderful opportunity to get to know people and begin to build networks in industries that are desirable to them.
Not every student sees the need for a mentor. I am trying to encourage students to take advantage of this rare and valuable opportunity. One student at a time.
Mentoring is an easy way for alums to give back to the institution and invest in students.
If you’re an alum who has mentored a student, what’s your experience been like? If you’re a student, would you work with a mentor or, if you have, was it beneficial? I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments!