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COVID-19 Update: The University of Minnesota will offer online, or alternative, instruction through the end of summer term 2020. Read CCAPS's operational updates or visit the Safe Campus website for the University's operational updates.

Making a Difference Through Mentorship

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CCAPS Mentor Program

Mentorship presents a win-win opportunity. Mentees gain hard-won, valuable insights from working professionals, and mentors get the gratification of giving back to those following in their footsteps.

Last year, the College of Continuing and Professional Studies (CCAPS) started its mentor program to provide these win-win opportunities for CCAPS students and alumni. The launch of this new initiative took place in fall 2019, well before the COVID-19 pandemic set in, so participants in the program were not aware they’d need to adapt to a purely virtual meeting arrangement during the second half of their mentorship. Fortunately, through Zoom meetings and phone calls, mentors and mentees were able to connect and develop strong professional relationships. We spoke to a few participants in the program to learn about their experiences. 

 

Forging Lasting Professional Relationships

 

Kortni Cloud
Kortni Cloud, mentee

Michaela Fogelman says she was driven to become a mentor because she loves her alma mater and wanted to reconnect by mentoring a current student. “I found myself really interested in my mentee's career prospects and quickly invested in her success,” Fogelman says. “Her experience reminded me of what it was like to be in graduate school, unsure of where the future would lead.”

Mentees in the CCAPS Mentor Program were equally invested in the experience. CCAPS student Kortni Cloud went into the mentorship with an open mind, not knowing what exactly to expect. At the info session, she’d ranked the available mentors in order of her preference, based on the professional background each had. The mentor she was paired with turned out to be an alumna of the Health Services Management (HSM) program—the same program Cloud was in. From the beginning, the two hit it off. “My mentor, Talia, was somebody that I could really connect with. She graduated two years ago, and it was exciting to see the path she’d taken with the same degree I’m getting. It was exciting to hear about what courses would influence the job search, and it was helpful to hear how the HSM program taught her the things that she uses today.”

“It was really exciting to not only have a mentor, but a friend, too. And it was cool to see someone doing something interesting with their degree.”
— Kortni Cloud, mentee

Cloud and her mentor arranged biweekly hour-long meetings via Zoom or over the phone. They’d start each meeting by talking about personal and professional news, then discuss Cloud’s career-related questions. One subject the two spoke about was relocating to a new city for work, which is something Cloud’s mentor had done. Cloud says, “It was really exciting to not only have a mentor, but a friend, too. And it was cool to see someone doing something interesting with their degree.”

Emma Flynn had a great experience with her mentor, too. She remembers seeing the email about the new CCAPS Mentor Program and thinking to herself, “Why wouldn’t I do this?” Flynn’s goal is to one day work in bioethics, a competitive field with an unconventional health care path. She hoped that, through a mentorship, she could gain insight and confidence from someone who had chosen an unconventional path, too. Flynn found what she was looking for through her mentor. 

“I found it valuable to support someone in the early stages of starting their career and use my own experiences to give back to someone else who was at the point that I was a few years ago." 
— Michaela Fogelman, CCAPS mentor

“I was matched with Gabriel, who has a background in public health and anthropology. He’s worked in the public, nonprofit, and private sector, so he’s been all over,” Flynn says. “Gabriel helped me fine-tune my resume, and we talked a lot about networking. He helped me get more confident in those skills, knowing that I wasn’t looking to apply them in the expected way.”

The two met more frequently through a mix of Zoom appointments and phone calls as virtual job fairs started up. Flynn asked a lot of broad questions to soak up her mentor’s wisdom. “Most of my questions were about his experiences and how he saw them translating to my situation, rather than him telling me exactly what I should do. For example, I’d ask if there was ever a time when he was uncomfortable in a networking situation? What did you do? Can you give me tips for navigating job fairs? Things like that, so it ended up being more storytelling than a Q&A session.”

 

A Rewarding Experience

 

Emma Flynn
Emma Flynn, mentee

The first cohort in the CCAPS Mentor Program wrapped up at the end of spring semester, yielding great experiences all around. For mentors like Fogelman, allaying mentees’ feelings of uncertainty was extremely satisfying. “I found it valuable to support someone in the early stages of starting their career and use my own experiences to give back to someone else who was at the point that I was a few years ago,” she says. And as for mentees like Cloud and Flynn, the takeaways were huge. Cloud says, “My conversations with my mentor gave me more confidence in the options I have for the future.” Flynn echoes this sentiment. “I learned a lot and gained a lot of confidence, as well as validation that my resume is in a really good place,” Flynn says. “I know how to talk about my strengths rather than muddling through them as I might have before. I think the mentorship program helped me be more comfortable in general with what networking and connecting with people can really be and how reciprocal it can be.”

"I think the mentorship program helped me be more comfortable in general with what networking and connecting with people can really be and how reciprocal it can be.”
— Emma Flynn, mentee

For many participants in the CCAPS mentorship program, the relationships forged will go on—well beyond a LinkedIn connection. These win-win opportunities among students and alumni have the capacity to last throughout their careers. 

Learn more about how you can get involved in the CCAPS Mentor Program