The college experience demands many transitions, moments where students need guidance and practical knowledge to achieve their ultimate goal – a college degree that will form their professional career. That’s where the College of Business’ mentoring program aims to make a mark.
Through one-on-one relationships with students, mentors share career advice, industry-specific insights and real-world business experience to guide students’ entry into the post-college world. This also helps students build career networks and develop the skills necessary to become better professionals.
“Mentors play an important role in students’ first year and in preparing them for graduation,” said David R. Klock, dean of the College of Business, who pointed out that recent research shows higher graduation rates among students who are mentored. “They give students a perspective that delivers success.”
The 2014-2015 academic year drew applications from 90 students and 60 mentors, among them COB alumni and members of the local business community, making it the largest group since the COB’s mentoring program began five years ago.
As students and mentors met for the first time on September 24, they shared basic information via acting and guessing. Mentoring program leaders used a game of charades for each mentor-student duo to get know his or her partner by guessing their favorite things.
Gloria Romero Roses (BBA ’92), who helped develop the mentoring program with fellow Alumni Luisa Mendoza Chavez, pointed out that she never had a mentor during her days at FIU so she wanted to make sure other students had the benefit of that relationship.
“As a mentor you are the Chief Perspective Officer: in this role you can highlight opportunities and opportunity costs of decisions that our mentees will encounter,” Romero Roses said. “You also share personal experiences that students need… they get all the academics, but it doesn’t always apply in real life and this is only clear when you have perspective.”
Students and mentors will connect regularly.
Barbara Pestana, vice president, field sales at L’Oreal USA, signed on as mentor to Justin Sanchez, a COB junior majoring in finance and international business. A first-time mentor and FIU graduate, she describes the initiative as an opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life and also one of giving back to FIU.
“I want to support Justin and provide insights on how to use his academic knowledge and develop the skills to navigate the business world,” said Pestana. “He can receive the feedback, advice and coaching he needs to make a fast imprint into his career track.”
Sanchez’ goal is to work for a retail company, using his finance knowledge to specialize in forecasting trends, sales targets and strategy.
“By getting to know her and learning about her everyday tasks, she’s going to help me draft goals and understand challenges,” said Justin. “I’ll also be able to establish a good connection with academics through the steady guidance from my mentor.”
Together, Sanchez and Pestana have already planned for biweekly meetings, some in person and others by phone. The first one is scheduled for October 3rd.