Through University of Idaho Alumni Mentor Program, Vandal alumni serve as mentors to undergraduate students. They help students navigate their Vandal experience and plan for life after graduation. This can include providing advice on internships, guidance on academic choices, career exploration, graduate school evaluation, and more. The Vandal Mentorship Program is a wonderful way for alumni to stay connected to U of I and inspire the next generation of alumni.
Understanding the Program:
The Alumni Mentorship Program pairs alumni with current student mentees in a semester-long mentoring relationship. Mentorship is a process in which an experienced individual helps another person develop goals and skills through ongoing, supportive conversations and learning experiences.
The role of the alumni mentor is to engage and participate in the process with their mentee by providing insight, guidance, and support based on personal experience in career and academic pursuits.
The role of the student mentee is to engage and participate in the process with their mentor to gain guidance in career development and exploration, goal setting, and decision-making.
What can I expect from this program?
As a mentor, you can be a part of your mentee’s growth. Mentors provide students with recognition, support, challenge, and inspiration. Your student will ask you questions, and you should raise questions as well.
In this program, you will:
- Serve as a resource, provide guidance, share expertise, and provide feedback.
- Assist with internship and job searches.
- Encourage students to tackle challenges and develop new skills.
- Advise students on how to successfully navigate their way through U of I.
- Assist students as they transition from college life to work life or graduate school.
- Provide students with additional resources (link to career services) if they need extra support.
Participating in the Program
- Once you are matched with your mentee, you should expect to meet with them once a month for 30 to 60 minutes to offer academic and professional guidance, insight, and coaching to help them as they transition from college to the working world.
- Find the best way to communicate with your mentee(s). Phone and video chatting, rather than texting or email, will promote a stronger rapport and better results. Face-to-face, in-person meetings (when possible) are perhaps the most effective, but what matters most is that both parties are comfortable with the way you communicate and agree that it will accomplish the mentorship goals.
- Expect it to take a while to establish an effective working relationship; develop a rapport by learning about your mentee(s) beyond their professional goals (provided they are comfortable sharing information about their hobbies, families, etc.)
- At your first meeting, your mentee will be asking you a number of sample questions. Remain open and honest during this time to start your mentorship off on the right foot.
- After the first meeting, there are a number of activities you can complete with your students to increase their scholastic and professional development.
Academic and Co-Curricular
- Review options for classes during upcoming semesters. Share your own class choices and relate the curriculum to internship and job searches.
- Discuss possible major and minor choices as well as classes that help your students meet their career goals.
- Discuss global experience opportunities.
- Review Career Services resources and program offerings.
- Talk about organizations on campus and national associations.
- Provide a job shadowing opportunity. Discuss best practices for workplace etiquette.
- Review your students’ resumes and cover letters together and provide feedback.
- Research summer jobs and internships and identify places to apply.
- Encourage your students to attend career fairs, on-campus programming, and other career development events.
- Practice interviewing. Conduct a mock interview and share constructive feedback.
- Discuss internship and/or job offers.
- Talk about graduate school. Review programs and draft application essays together.
- Keep a mentoring journal to record details. Reflect and evaluate.
- Talk about post-graduation life and what to expect.
Helping Your Mentee(s) During Internships and the Job Hunt
Chances are your students will want your assistance and advice with their internship and/or job search. Students at University of Idaho have access to Handbid, an online system that allows them to search the Handbid database for internships or full-time positions. Alumni can create accounts to view the same positions students can and offer feedback about postings that their students might find interesting.
Internships and job placement opportunities provided by the mentor are NOT expected to be a regular part of the Vandal Mentorship Program. However, if opportunities arise for a mentor to assist a student in obtaining an internship or job placement, the following guidelines should be observed.
- Be mindful of the advice given to students.
- Recognize that it is a big commitment to help a student obtain an internship or job.
- If you do decide to try to open an opportunity, thoroughly discuss the steps that you’ll take on behalf of the student.
- Ask for regular communication regarding resumes, interviews, and offers, prior to starting the process.
- Recognize that the student may ultimately reject the internship or job you assisted in obtaining.
What if I’m feeling overwhelmed?
This program is designed to bring meaning to both students and mentors, not add stress! If you have questions or concerns about remaining active with the program, please contact Kendra Chilbert at firstname.lastname@example.org. There may be ways to stay active while balancing a busy schedule. In fact, one of the benefits of this program is that mentors and mentees determine the communication structure. We want to work with you to make this experience valuable.
*It is possible that a mentor may not be matched with a mentee, either because of a surplus of mentors in a certain field or another reason.