Alumni, corporate partners and community leaders will have the opportunity to mentor a student this fall at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) under a new cooperative program between the UAH Alumni Association and UAH Career Services.
Mentor A Charger (MAC) is designed to be ongoing each fall semester to bring students together with real-world business people. The university also offers a job shadowing opportunity during its Month of Externships (MOE) every March.
“They are two separate programs. We do hope that the Month of Externships will be a feeder for MAC,” says Mallie Hale, senior director of Alumni Relations and executive director of the UAH Alumni Association. Those interested in mentoring a student can learn more by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Student registration for Mentor A Charger will open Aug. 1 and will close Sept. 10. Registration information will be on the Career Services websiteand available on the Charger Path homepage. Students and mentors will have a minimum of five in-person or virtual meetings from September through December.
Through mentorship by alumni and community leaders, students will have the opportunity to develop both hard and soft skills that will help prepare them for life after graduation, Hale says.
“Currently, we do not have any such program in place, and yet many alumni have expressed interest in such a program over the years,” Hale says.
Phillips says career counselors often meet with students who could greatly benefit from having a mentor.
“The transition from high school to college is challenging,” Phillips says. “It can be helpful to connect with someone that understands that challenge and provides thoughtful insight on how to navigate this new journey.”
Junior T.J. Miller participated in a trial of the mentorship program. His mentor was Eric St. John, an associate at Crunkleton Commercial Real Estate Group, who Miller says was very helpful when it came to improving his resume and preparing him for interviews.
“Something I wanted to work on personally was goal-setting. One of my goals was to help start a start-up aerospace company after college,” Miller says. “With Eric’s connections, I was able to network with a UAH alumnus who had his own startup.”
He met with alumnus Mark Becnel who, with his twin brother Eric, also an alumnus, started RadioBro in Huntsville.
“I was fascinated with the company and what they did, and it fueled my passion to pursue my goal of starting my own start-up company,” Miller says.
Miller accompanied St. John to the UAH Alumni Achievement Awards during the summer, where Dr. Everett Roper was awarded.
“I wanted to meet with him and talk about his experiences he had pursuing his career, and ask for any advice he may have for me as a student pursuing a career path. I was immediately intimidated by Dr. Roper’s achievements and multiple degrees, but Eric was there to push me to speak with him,” Miller says. “We met for lunch later that week and discussed his experiences and he gave me advice on what I might experience while pursuing internships and, later on, a career as an engineer. He happily took my resume and assured we would keep in touch.”
Mark Reavis, a senior program analyst at Intuitive Research & Technology Corp., mentored senior Chris Farner.
“One thing that Mark guided me through was a monthly budget plan out of college. He gave me a baseline of $4,500 and I planned out my essential costs and savings all on my own,” Farner says. “This led into a one-hour review conversation, which was much more thorough than what I could have learned in any college class.”
Meagan Owens, donor relations director at the Huntsville Hospital Foundation, was the mentor for senior Menley Schofield.
“My biggest take away from the program is how connected mentoring made me feel to the university. The sense of community at UAH was a major part of the reason I chose to attend in the first place, and mentoring allows me to remain a part of that community and hopefully foster that feeling in someone else,” says Owens.
“I really enjoyed getting to know my mentee over the last semester,” Owens says. “Menley has such enthusiasm for her future. Working with a mentee who is so involved on campus has rekindled my love for UAH and has reminded me of the excellent education and appreciation for community I gained as a student.”
Owens also recommends the program for other alumni, even just for one semester.
“You will get just as much out of it as the student,” she says. “You get to not only watch someone succeed, but you get to be a part of it. I am glad the UAH Alumni Association developed this program. It goes to show how much they appreciate everyone who has spent any time on the campus or was involved with the school.”
MAC evolved directly from surveys and feedback in which alumni expressed interest in a mentoring program, Hale says.
“In partnering with Career Services on Career Fair and Month of Externships, we discovered the need to expand our collaboration and impact through the development of a mentorship program, “says Hale. “Following discussions with alumni and the UAH Alumni Association’s Career Services and Professional Development Committee, the idea of a formal mentorship program was derived. The Office of Alumni Relations and the Office of Career Services have a positive, collaborative relationship that centers on supporting alumni and students in reaching their full potential.”