Authored by Kurt Kraiger, PhD
Located in the heart of Memphis, the Fogelman College of Business and Economics is a beacon of opportunity for its diverse student body. For many, pursuing a business degree promises a brighter future and greater social mobility. To support these ambitious students, a remarkable mentoring program has been established, connecting them with accomplished business leaders. The program nurtures a bond that proves beneficial for both mentors and proteges. As we celebrate National Mentorship Month, let's explore how mentorship has become a cornerstone of success at Fogelman.
A Ticket to Social Mobility
Fogelman College of Business and Economics prides itself on being a college of opportunity, primarily serving local Memphians who intend to stay in the community post-graduation. Many view a business degree as their ticket to a career with enhanced social mobility compared to their parents. To assist these students on their career journey, a mentoring program has been established. This program pairs ambitious students with local professionals, matching accounting students with accountants and human resources (HR) students with HR professionals. Often, these mentors are alumni who volunteer their time to give back and strengthen the talent pipeline for their organization.
Formal Mentoring: One Type of Mentorship
The mentoring program at Fogelman is a formal mentorship program, but many institutions provide access to other forms of mentorship for their students. These include:
- On-demand/flash mentorship - Students can access peer and alumni communities and connect as needed.
- Peer mentorship - Students can rely on guidance from those slightly ahead in their academic journey.
- Super Mentors- Puts the protege in the driver’s seat and relies on small asks to keep the relationship progressing. Students are encouraged to aim high.
- Formal mentorship - Students and alumni are matched for a structured program with set goals and objectives.
Let's explore how a formal mentoring program is working at Fogelman. Throughout the academic year, mentors (business leaders) and protégés (students) engage in two key activities.
First, they convene once a month as a group. These sessions focus on developing essential skills such as interpersonal communication, collaboration, and problem-solving. An example is the annual speed mentoring event, where protégés receive personalized business cards displaying their university logo, career objectives, and contact information. Local business leaders guide them in initiating professional conversations. Protégés then practice these interactions with mentors they have not met before, honing their networking skills through practice and feedback.
The second monthly activity involves one-on-one meetings between mentors and protégés, usually initiated by the mentor. These sessions often entail skill-building, experiential learning activities, resume reviews, or mock interviews. Mentors may also take their protégés to professional association luncheons to practice networking or arrange informational interviews and job shadowing opportunities with colleagues in different roles.
These one-on-one meetings are not just about skill-building; they can also be enjoyable bonding experiences. Activities may include sharing meals, hiking, or attending sporting events. One memorable example involved a mentor arranging a professional photoshoot for a protégé, resulting in great profile pictures and fun "outtakes."
Goals of Formal Mentorship: Careeer Readiness
The program's goals are clear: to make protégés more career-ready and confident in their job search or internship applications. They gain a deeper understanding of their career options and insider insights into what distinguishes successful job candidates or employees.
Frequent Objectives of Formal Mentorship
Protégés also benefit from a supportive environment to work on essential skills, as demonstrated by one timid student who struggled with eye contact while speaking. In response to COVID disruptions, this student was invited back for a second year and paired with a mentor who was an executive speech coach. Through the mentorship, she learned to present herself confidently, aced an interview, and secured a coveted Human Resources position.
How Alumni Feel About Mentoring
Many employers providing mentors see it as a recruiting strategy, particularly for sophomores, enabling them to identify potential interns. Some host meetings to showcase their business and leadership to students. Others participate in mentorship for their managers' professional development, as mentorship skills can translate back to their careers.
However, mentors often have a different motivation. It's a rewarding experience to work with talented, self-invested students and pay forward the mentorship that shaped their own careers. For mentors of color, it's an opportunity to open doors in ways they may not have experienced before. Mentorship activities are engaging, informative, and conducive to meaningful relationship-building, and are often accompanied by food, a guaranteed way to attract students.
Mentorship Results: Student and Alumni Outcomes
This mentorship program's impact is evident in the transformation of students and the benefits mentors gain. The results and feedback from this program demonstrate its effectiveness.
And in our research, we further profile how mentorship can improve outcomes for students and alumni in The Social Capital Impact Report. Highlights include:
- Alumni using PeopleGrove for mentorship opportunities are 340% more likely to give financially to their alma mater, compared to alumni who were not.
- 63% of alumni of universities using PeopleGrove for mentorship find their alumni network helpful, compared to only 9% nationally.
- 72% of students using PeopleGrove for mentorship are confident in their ability to be successful in the job market.
In closing, consider starting your mentorship program. It's a win-win relationship that benefits students, local employers, and dedicated volunteer mentors. Fogelman College's formal mentorship program exemplifies inclusivity and opportunity, bridging gaps, fostering personal growth, and paving the way for promising careers. As we celebrate National Mentorship Month, let this program serve as a testament to the immeasurable power of all types of mentorship, and the opportunities it unlocks for students.
PeopleGrove’s end-to-end solutions support all mentorship. For additional reading or information on mentorship opportunities, please explore our resources and solutions.
About the Author
Dr. Kurt Kraiger is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Management at the University of Memphis. He received his B.A. in Psychology from the University of Cincinnati in 1979, and his Ph.D. in Industrial-Organizational Psychology from The Ohio State University in 1983.Dr. Kraiger conducts research on learning in ill-structured environments such as online learning and mentoring. His principal contributions to the learning and development literature have been construct and theory development. Through June of 2023, he has edited three books on training, published over 70 scholarly papers, given over 40 invited talks, and made over 110 scientific presentations. His work has been cited over 15,000 times and his H-Index is 37. He has also received over $3.2m in research funding during his career. Dr. Kraiger is a Fellow and former President of SIOP, and a fellow of the Association for Psychological Sciences. An expert in the science of workplace, his research and presentations offer empirically-supported recommendations for improving L&D practice and developing more effective mentors.