Opportunities to network and build professional relationships can lead to internships and valuable career exploration for students—but during a pandemic, making that happen requires some creativity.
To address the challenge, Oglethorpe ‘s Career Development and Alumni Relations collaborated to offer a virtual mentoring program to help students make connections and explore career opportunities, in a convenient virtual setting.
Part of OU’s Intern for a Day series, this “flash mentoring” program launched in the fall semester, matching students—mostly freshmen and sophomores—with alumni and community mentors. These volunteers brought expertise and experience from a wide range of fields, including accounting, financial advising, communications, health sciences, law, and nonprofit management.
After “match day,” when pairings were announced, mentors and mentees had two weeks to connect virtually to get to know each other, brainstorm potential internships and other networking opportunities, and discuss career paths that students were considering. The accessible, one-on-one conversations allowed the mentorship to be individually tailored to students’ needs, questions, and interests. An impressive 45 students and 36 mentors participated in the inaugural program.
“It truly helped me to gain a greater sense of self-confidence as I determine how to combine my wide array of passions into a career path,” said one student of the experience with their mentor.
“He brought a wonderful perspective on life—both personally and professionally—and I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to connect with him.”
Well-received by participants, the rebranded “Career Connections” program will repeat in spring 2021. Nearly 40 mentors have already signed up for the spring, and the program is continuing to accept volunteers online through February 22.
During the first week of spring semester, Career Development will open registration to all students, regardless of class year. Mentor match day is March 29, 2021.
“There is no better connection than Petrel to Petrel!” said President Nick Ladany in a thank you letter to last semester’s mentors. “One-on-one engagement with students provides tremendous value as they navigate the uncertainty of today’s world.”