The College of Business at the University of Mary Washington is committed to providing real world experiences and connections for our students in the business community. While we invite speakers into our classrooms, have groups work on projects with local organizations as part of course or student organization requirements, and even take students on “Learning Journeys” (e.g., field trips), we have a missing link—alumni mentors. To that end, we in 2012 we began matching UMW alumni who work in business disciplines with interested undergraduates so that students can have access to a professional who can serve as a mentor for that student.
Any graduate or undergraduate student who is a business major or has declared themselves as ‘pre-business’ (those who have not met the entrance requirements for the business program yet), may apply for a mentor. The commitment for the alumni will be for one year. If the mentor/mentee match ‘works,’ you may continue the relationship into future years. We recruit alumni and students throughout the month of September, with a goal of communicating assignments by October 15th.
Because of today’s technology, an alumni can be literally anywhere in the world for this relationship to develop. We ask the first contact be made by the alumni (mentor) to the student (mentee) by email. After the initial contact, the mentee is expected to be the primary initiator of contact, and we expect a minimum of three contacts per semester. These interactions can be via email, text, phone, Skype, or in person! Ideally, the conversation topics should be directed by the mentee, but the mentor should feel comfortable in addressing topics s/he feel appropriate.
At the end of each semester, we will ask both mentor and mentee to give brief feedback on the program. Specifically, we would like to know, from survey responses, what is working, what is NOT working, and what we can do to improve the program. Additionally, it will be interesting for us to learn what has surprised both populations about what they have learned and what some of the conversation topics have been.
Our goal is to link our students with business professionals. The students learn how to successfully navigate the job search process, are exposed to UMW alumni with jobs in organizations that might or might not have been familiar to the students, and are given chances to develop formal relationship with mentors. The alumni help current students prepare for life post-UMW and gain a connection to job seekers. The alumni are valued for their experiences and feel a sense of satisfaction in assisting the next generation of UMW students’ transition to successful alumni.
If you are willing to serve as a mentor, please fill out an application online. Please contact Andrea Cordray, Student Support and Outreach Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the length of the mentorship? What if I have to end the mentorship early?
We are asking for a commitment of one year. If you must end the mentorship early, we will understand and assign your mentee to another mentor.
What is the anticipated timeline for establishing the mentorship?
We plan to recruit mentors and students interested in being mentored during September and will match mentors with mentees by October 15.
What is the anticipated time commitment per month?
This is up to each mentor/mentee, but normally 15-30 minutes a month would be an expected commitment.
I am not a manager. Can I still be a mentor?
Is there a limit to the number of mentees a mentor can have?
We would prefer to assign each mentor no more than two mentees for two primary reasons: we want each student to be given quality time from the mentor plus we want to give as many alumni as possible an opportunity to participate.
Will every student be assigned a mentor? What if you have more mentees than mentors?
Students must apply to receive a mentor. So not every graduate or undergraduate student will have one—only those who wish to participate will apply.
What if my mentee has questions/requests I either cannot answer/do not want to answer?
Mentors always have the right to say “I don’t know” or “I’d prefer not to answer.” We do not to create an uncomfortable situation for either party.
What do I do if there is a personality or other conflict?
If there is some type of conflict between the mentor and mentee, we will try to resolve it and, if that is not possible, we will reassign the mentee to another mentor, if possible. We want this to be positive experience for both parties.
I have just recently graduated myself. Can I still be a mentor?
We would prefer that a mentor have graduated at least two years prior to being assigned a mentee.
Is there a cost to being a mentor?
There is no financial cost to be a mentor. The cost is time.
Can there be requests for a specific mentor/mentee?
We prefer to assign mentees to mentors without considering special requests. Our intent is to expose our students to ideas with which they are unfamiliar, and specifically requesting a mentor might undermine this objective.
What would a typical mentor/mentee meeting look like?
We expect most meetings would occur electronically or telephonically as mentors may be recruited from outside the Fredericksburg area. They might take the form of Skype, text, phone, Facebook or Linkedin messages or, in some cases, face-to-face meetings.
Is there a set list of activities/topics for the mentorship?
No. We want the relationship to develop around topics the mentor and mentee wish to discuss. We will provide monthly themes/topics to the mentees as a potential guide.
What are the goals of the program? How does this differ from a recruiting partnership?
The primary goals involve engaging alumni in a meaningful way and giving our undergraduates persons to interact with who can help them explore career options AND how to navigate the job search process. While recruiting activities may be a primary conversation topic, it is not meant to be the only focus of the relationship.