Imagine that you’re a second-year MBA student looking to shape your future career. It's a challenging time to be sure, but you’ve got a powerful resource on your side: a c-level executive who has committed to mentoring you for an entire year.
Does this sound too good to be true? Not if you’re one of the seventeen Oregon MBA students currently participating in the pilot year of the Oregon Mentor Network.
Funded by a generous gift from Lundquist College Board of Advisors Chair Gwen Lillis, the early success of the initiative indicates that it will be a meaningful addition to the offerings of the Oregon MBA.
“Third-party guidance is extremely valuable when students are making critical career decisions,” said MBA Career Services Advisor Sally Bell, who spearheaded the initiative and is its manager. “When you have really seasoned professionals, they are able to act as a true touchstone of advice and guidance."
As Bell is quick to make clear, mentors are never asked or expected to help the students get positions at their own organizations or anywhere else. Their role is simply to connect with their assigned students, listen, ask questions, and share the insights they've drawn from their own career experience. Along with the guidance and advice students gain, Bell sees other significant benefits as well.
“The mentors put up a reflecting mirror for the students,” she said. “They ask questions that enable students to process and reflect on what they are experiencing in the course of their MBA experience.”
The mentor network’s simple structure makes it easy for professionals and their mentees to participate. At its core are one-on-one mentoring sessions—one or more per month—which are conducted in person or via Skype or telephone. Students and mentors work together to develop schedules that are convenient for both. Mentors are also required to attend at least one of the mentor network's events and gatherings that are scheduled throughout the year.
Just a few months into the mentoring process, Collin Hoyer, MBA ’15, has already experienced how valuable a mentor's feedback can be.
“It’s not like getting advice from my parents, a boss, or my friends. My mentor brings a different perspective. He's someone I can tell anything, and I know he'll be completely candid with me,” Hoyer said.
Read Hoyer's Take on the Mentorship Experience