A new program is connecting Clarion University business and information sciences students with professionals in their field.
“CUmentor is designed to link alumni and employer partners with current students to facilitate mentor-mentee partnerships that foster the sharing of knowledge and experience,” said Josh Domitrovich ('13, MBA '15), coordinator for career mentoring and internships in the Center for Career and Professional Development.
The program's goals are three-fold:
• Provide students with opportunities for professional development, networking and information/idea exchange with professionals in their academic area;
• Provide opportunities for alumni and employer partners to connect with the university and play a notable role in current students' future endeavors; and
• Establish partnerships between alumni and employer partners and students to facilitate career exploration and career coaching.
The idea for the program was pitched by Lindsay Banner ('07), a member of the College of Business Administration and Information Sciences' advisory council. Banner, who holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree, will be among the mentors.
Phil Frese, Ph.D., dean of the College of Business Administration and Information Sciences, said it's exciting to see the board of advisors being so enthusiastic and creative in bringing forth such ideas, coupled with the fact that the provost, Ron Nowaczyk, Ph.D., has given his total support.
"We are very excited about the opportunity our students have to learn from and be mentored by our successful business leaders," said Dave Hartley, Ph.D., assistant dean of the College of Business Administration and Information Sciences. "This can be a key factor in the preparation of our graduates for successful careers."
Domitrovich said other universities have similar mentoring programs, but Clarion's is more structurally sound and unique in its preparation of students to become mentees.
During students' freshman and sophomore years, they will have the opportunity to communicate with mentors through a discussion group. Students will begin preparing for the CUmentor program through interactions with the Center for Career and Professional Development, which will be linked to multiple classes within their college.
Students will be exposed to a Professional Development Series in their sophomore year. The Professional Development Series is comprised of in-person presentations, recorded workshops, webinars, guest speakers and tasks that will provide intermediate and advanced programming to enhance participants' career development and job search skills. Students must complete the required five of nine sessions in the series to be mentor-eligible, but completing all nine sessions is encouraged.
"Students will be evaluated through the use of a rubric, which will assign a digital badge that will be used as part of the matching process," he said.
Badges are gold, silver and bronze, depending on sessions completed in the Professional Development Series: completion of the required five sessions earns bronze; completion of seven sessions earns silver; and completion of nine sessions earns gold. Students who earn the higher ranking badges will have the first opportunity to be matched with a mentor.
Domitrovich will begin matching mentees with mentors at the end of the students' sophomore years, by using a unique algorithm intended to provide the best possible match. The partnership is designed to last one academic year, but participants are encouraged to extend beyond that year.
"We're proud to be the pilot, and we're looking forward to having it campus-wide as part of our students' Clarion experience," Frese said.
Alumni are encouraged to be mentors, as it provides a great non-monetary way to give back, but mentors don't have to be Clarion alumni; they can be employers and/or a combination of the two. Domitrovich noted that some institutions operating a similar program require mentors to be five years post-baccalaureate, but Clarion's program doesn't have the same limitations.
"Some amazing and successful individuals are only a year out of college, and we don't want to exclude them," Domitrovich said.
Initially, CUmentor opportunities will be available to students with majors and minors in the College of Business Administration and Information Sciences. Within two years, Domitrovich hopes to implement the program university-wide.
"To close the loop, our goal is that current mentees, once graduated, will become mentors themselves," Domitrovich said.
For information about the program, visit www.clarion.edu/cumentor.