By Breena Loraine
April 5, 2012 (San Diego) -- San Diego State University’s Mentor Program is a win-win situation for students and San Diego businesses. With the participation of approximately 60 business executives from diverse companies, the program allows business seniors and graduate students to gain insight into the industries and positions that interest them, while also allowing businesses to identify students as potential interns and employees.
Since its introduction two semesters ago, the program’s student and mentor participation has more than doubled in size. This semester, SDSU’s Career Services and the College of Business Administration have coordinated an impressive cohort of professionals from the San Diego community, including the CEO of Interknowlogy (Emilie Hersh), the VP of Marketing for Petco (Greg Seremetis), the VP of Supply Chain Services Distribution, Inventory and Logistics for Jack in the Box (Susan Zayas), and the Director of Financial Planning and Budget for the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority (Scott Brickner).
Mentees are given the opportunity to tour their mentors’ facilities, shadow them in meetings and events, and seek advice directly impacting their career pathways. This unique program provides the platform for students to extend their education beyond the classroom, diving straight into the professional business arena.
Bryan Lubic, Professional Development Advisor for SDSU’s Graduate Business Programs, stated, “I designed the developmental aspects of the mentor program with these three outcomes and benefits in mind: to help students (1) clarify their career and professional goals, (2) confirm their choices, opportunities, and strengths for their goals, and (3) connect to the community, the profession, and most importantly, to forward their next career and professional actions.”
MBA student Jonathan Singer was paired with mentor Mike Cully, the manager of San Diego’s division of car2go, a burgeoning electric car sharing company that has been operating globally for less than one year. Singer applied for the mentor program because he “wanted to learn from an individual who has had professional success in life” and “to gain a better understanding of how a manager runs a business on a day-to-day basis.”
Cully believes that the mentor program “becomes a valuable asset” when mentors “provide the student with unfettered access to day-to-day operations and decision-making.”
He argues that mentees should have the ability to become part of “the fabric of the organization,” and that “it is only by giving the student the opportunity to interact, weigh-in, and in some cases make decisions, that the whole learning process comes full circle.” Because of mentors like Cully, students are able to observe leaders, while also honing their own leadership skills.
With the mentor program underway, students are making connections in the business community and identifying opportunities they may have otherwise not recognized. Singer stated that when the program ends, he “would love to secure an internship with the company and work toward car2go’s continued success.”
The program will culminate on April 20 with the “Mentor Appreciation Breakfast” on the campus of SDSU. At the current rate of participation and interest, next semester’s program may triple in size from its initial offering, and its impact on the San Diego community will continue to thrive.