University of Phoenix alumni mentoring offers career guidance for the real world
Sometimes you can’t have too much of a good thing. Just ask Adrienne Marcus, who manages the University of Phoenix Alumni Mentor Program.
According to Marcus, associate director of alumni career services at the University of Phoenix Alumni Association, “We’ve really exploded onto the scene.” More than 25,000 University students were connected with alumni mentors in the past year, she notes.
What’s behind the program’s success? Enthusiastic alumni who want to pay it forward, Marcus asserts. “Our alumni really wanted a way to share their expertise and give back to students and other alumni, to their professions and to their alma mater.”
Participating alumni might be surprised by just how much of an impact they can make, Marcus says.
“When you see something through another person’s eyes, it becomes magical again, just like the first time you experienced it,” she explains. “In this way, mentorship enriches the mentor just as much as the mentee.” Alumni mentors also understand what it means to be a student at the University, she points out.
The 2-year-old program’s goals are pretty simple.
“We work hard to match the best possible mentor with the requesting student’s or alum’s needs [at the time of request],” Marcus explains. “Some mentees are students early in their degree programs — they can request a mentor in their first class — while others are alumni out in the work world looking to advance their careers. We find them an alumni mentor with the relevant career experience to answer their questions.”
Those answers can include tips about resumés, interviewing and networking strategies, as well as industry trends, navigating the political environment at work and how to get ahead. Mentors even give guidance on how to dress for success.
The University promotes the mentorship program to alumni primarily through Alumni Homecoming events and Phoenix Focus magazine, while informing current students about mentorship opportunities through eCampus and the PhoenixConnect®academic social network.
The mentoring relationship can last from 30 days to six months, and many participants use the program more than once to address specific needs over the course of their education and careers, according to Marcus.
“The camaraderie between mentors and mentees is what makes this program so successful,” she says. “The mentors want to share their experiences, while the mentees want to learn. And it works.”