Author: David Dodson


A group of young alumni leaders are launching a student mentoring program at the University of Georgia's Terry College of Business and are asking alumni of all ages to show their interest in mentoring a current student by taking a few minutes to fill out a brief online form.

The form will be used to create the best possible matches between a mentor's work experience, job function or industry and a student's career ambitions and interests, said Alex Frank (BBA '08), who approached the Alumni Relations Office with the idea and developed the concept with three other Terry grads.

"We put together the Terry Mentoring Program based on the best practices at some aspirant business schools," Frank said, "and we had about 25 alumni who pilot-tested the program this past spring. Because of the pilot's success, we're going to expand the mentoring program starting this fall semester.

"The program is not meant to be an opportunity for students to look for jobs," Franks said. "The mentoring relationship is a forum for two-way communication about school, life, careers and whatever else you might decide to discuss."

Setting fair expectations at the start of a mentoring relationship is critical to an enjoyable experience, Frank said. Mentors are asked to make an initial commitment of one year and to give their mentees opportunities to interact with them at least once a month. Occasional in-person meetings are also encouraged, but aren't expected or required. "Some mentors may live out of state," Frank said. "We don't want to exclude them from the matching process just because they're a long way from Athens."

At the end of a year, the program's steering committee will ask mentors and students to provide feedback in a follow-up survey, and the participants have the option to continue the mentoring relationship beyond the initial one-year commitment.

By providing career guidance, alumni mentors enhance the experience of Terry students while they are still in school and a valued connection adds another layer to a student's positive association with UGA and the Terry College.

"Great universities have a number of ways for alumni to give back," said Jill Walton, director of alumni relations at Terry. "We're always advancing the idea that all alumni, including young alumni, are capable of making an annual gift, no matter how small. But for younger alumni sometimes the bigger gift they can give is the gift of time."

Walton said the college's operating goal is to have 100 mentoring relationship under way by the end of the 2010-11 school year. But Franks said that having far more than 100 willing alumni will lead to far better results for the students and the mentors.

"Because of the way we're matching students with alumni based on certain criteria, the more alumni we have participating will mean better matches and better mentoring relationships," he said. "But if an alum isn't matched immediately, we'll retain their information for future matching periods."

Anyone with questions about mentoring that aren't answered in the overview and introduction to the program is encouraged to email Alex Frank on behalf of the Terry Mentoring Program steering committee.