While it may be hard to meet face to face right now, RSM MentorMe is helping students prepare for the next stage of their careers through virtual meetings. And it’s also helping mentors stay connected to our school.
Words: Sarah Robertson
“Maybe things will be okay if you do nothing. But it’s always better to do something” says Hugo A. Valdivia (MBA, 2013), an experienced member of MentorMe—the online platform connecting our alumni with soon-to-graduate students and recent graduates.
He’s clear on the value of the programme. “When I moved to Europe in 2012, I was lucky enough to connect with a couple of people who talked to me both about the opportunities available, and the challenges that lay ahead. It was great to get some honest input.”
Now he’s actively paying it forward, mentoring while working as a finance manager for a maritime services company. Hugo says he’s still getting great value from the programme, as he shares his experiences with soon-to-be graduates.
“It’s great for improving soft skills like active listening, and I’ve enjoyed the experience so much that it led to me following a certification to become a career coach. What started as philanthropy on my part, has led to something new for me. And the input from the people I talk to also helps me to stay connected with the jobs market for graduates—interview techniques and job portals change pretty frequently, and it’s important for me to stay up to date with developments in this area.”
Hugo’s current mentee is Rocio Espinosa. They have met once so far, and she is due to graduate in December 2020. “I was recommended to the Mentor Me program in a self-marketing class, designed to equip us with a practical tool kit for our job search. I’m hoping to be able to remain in the Netherlands after graduation and begin to build my career here, and so I was keen to connect with Hugo because he has a similar background to mine. Practical advice—as well as advice about building networks and searching for jobs—is really valuable to me. I’ve already learned a lot from him about navigating the visa process, and he’s also shared some great tips on how to make active choices in my job search.”
Simon Ruiz Tada (MSc Strategic Management, 2012) was also initially attracted to MentorMe as an opportunity to share his experiences in the same way that others had done before him, and in the past five years he’s worked with about 20 students.
“Mentoring helps me to codify my learnings as I develop people skills. It’s also a good exercise in understanding what I want from my own mentor, as I continue to build my own career. An additional benefit is that it’s a great way to stay connected with my school—it helps to create a great sense of belonging.”
For students signing up to the portal, the advantages are also clear: a chance to find experienced professionals who have taken a similar route and learn from their career development.
“As I get closer to graduation, I want to begin to connect with people who have previously trodden a similar path,” says Noah Chenevert. “I connected with Simon as his role in the consulting industry is something that I would like to work towards, and I was keen to hear his experiences about moving on from college into the job market. It’s amazing that you get to connect with people a few years ahead of you in their career and find out how they’ve got to their current position. I also appreciate Simon’s honesty about the challenges of moving forward in your career, and his input on which roles and interviews to target.”
While so many aspects of life are on hold during the current COVID-19 crisis – and face-to-face meetings impossible to arrange – MentorMe is continuing to help students make connections with new mentors through video conferencing and phone calls.
Rocio found that meeting virtually hasn’t detracted from her experience working with her mentor, Hugo. “I was pleasantly surprised about what a great experience it still is—you can still connect with people just as well as if you were face-to-face. And with busy schedules, finding time for calls and video chats can be more convenient than meeting in person.”
Simon and Noah agree. “The barriers to meeting in person are too high at the moment, but virtual meetings are working just fine,” says Simon. Noah adds, “those initial phone or video meetings are also good to check that you have a good connection and are going to be able to work well together.”
With job searches likely to look different for many graduates in the coming months, building networks and learning from others’ experiences will be hugely important for navigating the employment market. MentorMe can help both past and future graduates make new connections and understand what it will take to succeed as we move forward into a shared new normal.
Find out more about MentorMe at www.rsm.nl/mentorme, or contact Juan Maldonado to learn more about the programme for students and graduates.
Corporate Alumni Relations Manager
For MBA graduates