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Mentors offer encouragement, direction as students navigate complexities of business world

Jun 01, 2017

As a student majoring in management information systems (MIS) at the College of Business, Donald Bishop knew his technical skills were solid. He also knew he still had a lot to learn about finding a job and navigating the business world. That’s when he sought out a mentor, a college alumnus who had faced similar challenges and had real-world wisdom to share. It made the world of difference to him.

Today, the 2011 graduate is thriving as sales engineer with Oracle, a software tech company in the Washington, D.C., area – and, as a mentor, eager to share lessons learned with student protégées of his own.

It was through Bishop’s guidance that Nick Samperi, also an MIS major, was able to pinpoint his ideal position and concentrate on solidifying the skills that will help him land a job as a data scientist when he graduates next year.

“I like data and databases, but I wasn’t sure what I could do in that area as far as a job,” Samperi said. “I didn’t even know there was such a thing as a data scientist, but that is the perfect fit for me. No amount of research on the Internet could have helped me as much as Donald did. He made me realize that I’m unique, and the little things you’re good at can make you stand out.”

Talk to any student who has participated in the college’s Professional Mentorship Program (PMP) and you’ll hear each echo the same sentiment: Nothing can replace the insights of someone who has been there, done that. Students and alumni alike say they benefit greatly from the seven-week structured mentorships. Mentor and mentee speak by phone at least once a week, and these conversations – ranging in topic from industry trends to lessons learned on the job – often are supplemented with email exchanges and, sometimes, face-to-face visits.

Mentors help students develop self-awareness, advise them on their resumes, introduce them to successful people in their fields, act as a sounding board and encourage them to set higher goals, says senior accounting major Ryan Hall, the program’s student coordinator. The program, which runs during fall and spring semesters, is sponsored by the Student Leadership Council (SLC). In return, mentors gain the satisfaction of helping a budding professional succeed.

Mentor Robert Tyson, a senior valuation analyst at Beshears & Associates in Tampa, who earned degrees in real estate and management in 2015, signed up as a mentor because having had several himself, he understands the value to students and mentors alike.

“Mentoring allows me to facilitate students’ growth,” Tyson said. “I love to see others succeed and get the job they really want. On top of that, mentoring right now is the best use of my time and ability and my way to stay connected and give back to Florida State.”

He says he is impressed by students who take the initiative to seek out mentors and are willing to put in extra work being a mentee frequently involves. His mentee, Tim Willis, who graduated last December with a degree in real estate, is a great example.

Willis is an asset management and acquisitions analyst in the Atlanta office of Newport US RE. He said Tyson tailored the mentorship relationship to fit Willis’ personality and goals.

“We talked about what I ultimately want to do, critiqued each other’s resumes and cover letters, and worked on my elevator speech,” Willis said.

Tyson also suggested to Willis that while he was interning in Atlanta last summer he make a list of Florida State real estate alumni in the area, meet at least two of them for lunch every week, and learn three facts about each.

“Rob pushed me out of my comfort zone by forcing me to network, which really helped build my confidence and instilled in me a competitive attitude, and that helped catapult me into my current position,” Willis said.

Like Tyson and Bishop, Meaghan Ryan takes her responsibilities as a mentor to heart. She has gone out of her way to introduce marketing senior Blake Freycinet to her colleagues at Seminole Gaming, where she is corporate director for talent acquisition. Freycinet says he’s grateful for Ryan’s direction and encouragement.

“Sometimes I’m apprehensive about asking for help, but the college encourages you to seek out a mentor, and I’ve found that people really want to help you,” said Freycinet, who starts an internship at Macy’s in Miami this summer and has his eye on owning his own talent agency down the road. “Meaghan taught me a lot, including that you should be flexible in the job search and to take advantage of the best opportunities in front of you. She was very kind and generous with her time and sharing her insights, and always willing to put me in touch with people who could help me.”

Ryan says she appreciates what mentors in her life have done for her. “I’ve always had mentors to look up to, to offer advice, point me in the right direction and to vent to. I love being that person for someone else.”

The College of Business is seeking mentors from among its alumni base. If you are interested in learning more about the Professional Mentorship Program or the Summer Mentoring Program, please contact Marissa Langston, assistant dean for alumni and community engagement, at mlangston@business.fsu.edu.

By Barbara Ash





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