Atkinson students meet their matches

Every year, Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies engages in a matchmaking ritual. It’s called the Student-Alumni Mentorship Program Meet and Greet. This year 125 alumni mentors and students met their matches on Sept. 23 at the annual festive event hosted by the Student & Alumni Relations (STARS) Unit.

Since its inception in 2003, the Student-Alumni Mentorship Program has matched over 400 students with Atkinson alumni mentors. The program is a way for students to explore career options, while allowing alumni to give something back to the Atkinson community. Interest in the program has steadily increased. This year, 105 students have been paired with 84 alumni.  

Right: Atkinson mentors and mentees at meet and greet

The meet-and-greet event provides an opportunity for students to meet with alumni mentors, set up meetings for the term and enjoy a fun evening of networking, dinner, games and prizes.

"This year, for the first time ever, new mentors received a formal training session on mentoring and coaching, and mentees were able to look at online profiles and select their top mentor choices," said Franz Branschat, faculty liaison assistant for the STARS Unit. "These two initiatives have proven to be very successful and will help to improve the quality of experience for both mentors and mentees in the program."

The program runs from October to April every year. Students have the opportunity to explore their chosen career path and network with seasoned professionals in their field of interest. Alumni mentors provide guidance to their student mentees about setting career goals, writing resumés and preparing for interviews. They give mentees networking opportunities through job-shadowing and attending professional functions.

International students have found the program particularly beneficial since it helps them learn more about Canadian culture and university life.

"As a newcomer to Canada and a new York student, I think that the mentorship program is perfect for me because I feel connected to my mentor who is a professional in marketing," said second-year student Angie Olortegui. "I’m really happy because we will work on developing my confidence with English and at the same time talk about different real life experiences. I think this is the best way to learn."

Along with students, mentors reap the benefits of the program. It is a great way to develop their own leadership and coaching skills, network with other professionals in their fields, and reconnect to their alma mater by helping deserving students achieve professional and career goals.

Right: Alumni mentor Frank Lobe (left) receives a prize from STARS Unit staff member Franz Branschat

Continuing mentor Frank Lobe has been with the program since 2005. He says he chooses to participate every year because of the opportunity to help an Atkinson student understand better how to successfully enter the real world of work.

"There comes a point where we need to give something back," said Lobe. "I consider myself very fortunate in my career and wish I had someone to help me circumvent the pitfalls inherent in my career path. If I could be that resource for someone else and allow them to arrive at a certain point of understanding earlier, then I consider myself even more fortunate."

The Student Alumni Mentorship Program is managed by the STARS Unit, which aims to develop, engage and celebrate the Atkinson community through various programs and initiatives. For more information about the program, visit the STARS Web site or call ext. 33572.