College to offer mentoring program

by Beacon Staff • January 25, 2006

The informational meeting was organized to bring attention to a mentoring program aimed at helping sophomores and juniors learn more about their respective fields through dialogue with those in the industry.,About 15 students gathered in a Little Building conference room Monday night to learn about the college's new plan to increase student interaction with top professionals in a variety of careers.

The informational meeting was organized to bring attention to a mentoring program aimed at helping sophomores and juniors learn more about their respective fields through dialogue with those in the industry.

The Emerson College Board of Overseers recently created the Mentoring Program, which will pair students with professionals based on the career the student hopes to enter after college.

The board is comprised of about 40 members, most of whom are alumni, and works to bring industry advice to students, according to Emerson Career Services Associate Kenneth Mattsson, who is currently revising the program.

In the past, Mattsson said, the board hosted receptions to discuss career options with students, but saw mainly seniors and recent graduates.

The board decided it wanted to design a new program that would help younger students, Mattsson said.

"We want to give back to the school and build a strong relationship with those we mentor," said Al Jaffe, a member of the board and an Emerson alumnus.

Jaffe, who is vice president of Talent Negotiation and Production Recruitment at ESPN, said he mentors through the station and found it to be a positive experience he wanted to bring to Emerson.

He also saw it as a way alumni could thank the school, and plans to be a mentor for a student in the college's broadcast journalism or TV/video major.

The Mentoring Program, which would not be offered for credit, would allow students to meet their mentors once a year, and speak with them monthly over the phone until the beginning of their senior year, Mattsson said.

"Hopefully, the student has built up a relationship with the mentor at that time, so they can continue that relationship," Mattsson said. "But in order for us to be able to manage numerous classes of these people rolling through, we want it so that we won't have to monitor that relationship."

Mattsson said the program is geared toward helping students forge a bond with an older person in the industry, who can share career mistakes and advice.

"A mentor should be someone to bounce ideas off," Mattsson said. "Someone you can talk to that isn't intimidating, who shares the same passion. They can offer suggestions of who to talk to, where to go."

Delilah Kistler, a sophomore acting major who attended the information session, said the prospect of asking a professional for advice is exciting because it has not been presented to her before.

"It is intimidating to ask a teacher about what I should do with my career and I feel like this could make it a lot easier to make connections for my future," Kistler said.

A majority of the mentors will be alumni or board members, but volunteers will also be recruited based on what kind of fields students wish to go into, Mattson said.

The first step for students who hope to participate in the program is to fill out an application with short answer, essay question, transcripts and three letters of recommendation by Feb. 10, Mattsson said.

There will also be an interview process after applications are reviewed.

Students must be sophomores or juniors during the 2006-2007 school year, and can be studying any major.

Mattsson said the program hopes to accept 15 students initially, and then continue to grow in the coming years.

"We appreciate good grades, but admission is not dependent on a GPA," he said. "We are really looking for excellence and passion and don't want people not to apply because they think their grades aren't good enough. Emerson has a lot of impressive students and we want the best to apply."

Mattsson said 30 mentors in various fields have been recruited and the pool will be narrowed based on what careers are required.

"We hope to bring knowledge of the industry to the students," Mattsson said. "Students can benefit from their mentors because they can learn from their mistakes."

Vasudha Verma, a freshman print journalism major who heard about the program through a friend, said she sees the great opportunities a mentor could present.

"I want the contacts, and I feel like this could provide me with internships and job opportunities in the future," she said. "I want to know what is expected in the real world of a print journalist and how to execute those expectations."

David Koenig, a freshman visual and media arts major, said the program offers a chance to learn in a way that he hasn't found anywhere else.

"I feel like there aren't that many clubs for my major, [so having] someone to discuss my career with could really help," he said. "I feel like I am behind some of my peers and this mentorship would help to push me forward."