When alumni meet students at their career crossroads
Launched in January this year, the school’s new online careers advisory platform, RSM MentorMe, has already proved a hit, judging by its 500 members to date. Students in search of in-the-field guidance from experienced professionals can match up with alumni keen to give back to the RSM community, pointing a new way forward in helping shape the next generation of businessmen and women to graduate from the school.
STORY BY KEVIN TITMAN
There are lots of careers services out there, but where better to start than talking to someone who has been in your own shoes?’ opens Alina van Duijn, RSM corporate recruitment manager and senior coach. ‘It is no coincidence that our MBA students, who already receive coaching, are also flocking to RSM MentorMe so that they can get the lowdown from professionals who walked along the same campus corridors as students.’
The secure virtual platform has been customised to ensure genuinely interactive dialogue between participating mentors and mentees, with the main services centring on overall careers advice, CV clinics and mock interviews, all of which are conducted once students and alumni are paired up via consultations. Mentors are searchable by function, industry and employer and, once the pairing is in place, it is over to the students to pose the questions and the alumni to share their experience and expertise.
Words of wisdom
On the mentor side, the benefits are threefold – not only can they hone their own coaching and leadership skills through the platform, but they also derive considerable personal satisfaction while at the same time giving back to the RSM student and school community. For Paul Monster (MSc Strategic Management 2001), the situation is an obvious win-win: ‘Sharing my knowledge and experience is very rewarding. The mentorship is positively received and gives me a lot of energy as a mentor. Helping others is helping myself, plus it enables me to give something back in return.’
Depending upon the types of questions asked by participating students, some mentors act as someone to bounce ideas off as well as performing a more formal advisory role, after which mentees ultimately go on to make their own career choices. As Okan Yilmaz (MSc Finance & Investments 2010) observes: ‘It is very inspiring to pass on wisdom and be able to become a sounding board for someone who really appreciates it.’
Learning from pros
The arguments for students to get involved are just as resounding, whether they are seeking practical skills for the job application process or a longer-term view on their potential career path. On hand are current professionals who not so long ago were faced with the same options when about to graduate.
For current RSM student Georgi Nikolov (MSc in Strategic Management), the interactive set-up to the tool and the guidance given has helped him view his possible career trajectory in an altogether different light: ’RSM MentorMe has given me the opportunity to have lively discussions with an experienced professional about my future. The mentor was well-prepared and helped me verbalise my career aspirations in a strategic light or, in other words, how my actions today fit with my mid- and long-term plans.’
Mentors and mentees have the option to meet up face-to-face on a discretionary basis but the main function of the platform remains virtual. Twenty-eight consultations between pairs of mentors and mentees were established in the first few weeks after launch, a number that will grow in the weeks and months to come as BSc, MSc and MBA students reap the benefits of outside knowledge from alumni with the added experience of the school.
Yannick Struijk, a third-year Bachelor in International Business Administration student, also sees the platform as the first step in building valuable professional connections for the future: ‘The tool is a great way for students to increase their career chances by connecting with and learning from successful alumni, plus it can also act as a valuable springboard for your network.’
In the know
As someone working within the school in aid of student career development, BSc/MSc career development manager Vildana Gačić is under no illusions as to the value of the tool for her team and the school as a whole, as well as its users. ‘I’m in no doubt that RSM MentorMe represents the best tailor-made solution to ensure that students receive the most appropriate advice and answers to their questions from people who know both the school and the job market. We’d love to be able to do the whole job ourselves but the sheer number of students makes it a physical impossibility. Alumni mentors shouldn’t underestimate just how appreciated their efforts are by the school, as well as by the student mentees benefiting from their advice.’
Find out more about RSM MentorMe here.
This article was first published in RSM Outlook summer 2016. You can download RSM Outlook here.