Flash Mentoring Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently asked questions for the Smeal Flash Mentoring Program

Who are the students that I will be reaching out to? Are the students expecting to hear from me?

The students are second-year (sophomore) Smeal students who are currently at a Commonwealth Campus and are "tracking" toward coming to Smeal in their junior year. They have been identified by the Business Career Center (BCC) as a target audience who could benefit from a conversation with an alumnus/alumna. Because they are at a Commonwealth Campus, they likely have not had a career coaching appointment with the BCC, have not taken a career planning course, and might not in the formal Mentoring Program. Therefore it is likely that they are behind in building a foundation for applying for internships, are nervous about which direction to go with career path choices, and haven't gone through an interview process. A conversation with an alumni volunteer can help boost their confidence and give them guidance in a few of these areas. 

The students will be given a heads-up from a Smeal career coach that alumni will be reaching out to connect with them.

1. What is the time commitment for this volunteer opportunity?

The number of alumni volunteers will ultimately determine the number of students that each volunteer is assigned to. We estimate that it will be about 5 students. Volunteers will be asked to write a brief introductory email to each of the students and then as they respond, set up a 30-60 minute phone or Zoom call with them, during the months of February - April. We do not expect that volunteers will hear back from all of the students who they reach out to. 

2. Do I need to come to campus to volunteer?

No, volunteers can participate from anywhere!

3. How do volunteers best identify themselves to the students? 

An email template is provided here for alumni volunteers to use so that they can briefly describe their background, share a reminder of why they are reaching out, and express that they are excited to learn more about the student.  

4. When I hear back from students, what are the next steps I should take?

After alumni volunteers receive a response from a student, they should reply back to help coordinate a mutual time to hold a phone or Zoom meeting.

5. How long should a meeting with each student be?

We recommend that meetings are between 30-60 minutes. We are leaving it up to the volunteers to determine how much time they have, especially depending on how many students they hear back from.  

6. Who should schedule the meeting? What platform should we use?

7. If volunteers prefer a phone call, the alumni and students can simply exchange numbers. If volunteers prefer a video meeting, any platform can be used. All students have access to a PSU Zoom account and setting up a meeting to share a link with a business professional could be good practice for them! 

8. What are the key takeaways I should be sharing?

  1. The overview slides from the Smeal Business Career Center are a great resource for volunteers to use during their discussion with students. As a reminder, these slides are part of a video that gives even more detail. You can access the video here.
  2. The Smeal Business Career Center website also has terrific information and resources to share with the students, and could be a place that volunteers can gain knowledge from or simply just share with the students to make sure they know it exists. 
  3. At the end of each meeting, volunteers should share the opportunity to sign up for the formal Smeal Mentoring Program. If they apply before the end of the spring semester (application will be open in the coming weeks), they will be matched with an alumni mentor for next academic year. 

9. What if I don’t hear back from my assigned students?

We anticipate that not all students will respond to the alumni volunteers who reach out. Volunteers can send one follow-up, and then let us know the status of their attempts by filling out this form. 

10. What if I do not have time to reach out to all my assigned students?

Although we hope most of our volunteers can complete their reach-out attempts and meetings, we understand that conflicts may arise that prevent them from having the time thy expected. Volunteers can contact Smeal’s Director of Alumni Relations, Jen Crispell, and she will help re-assign your students. 

11. What if a student asks to connect again in the future?

Volunteers are not expected to be long-term Mentors to the students they connect with. The purpose is to give the students a chance to gain a one-time outside perspective on what they can be doing to get ahead. However, if a volunteer feels like they have the time, they are welcome to offer another meeting. We do ask that volunteers encourage the students to apply for Smeal’s formal Mentoring Program!

12. Do I need to let anyone know that I did or did not connect with my assigned students?

Yes, volunteers should fill out this very brief form by May 1 to let us know the status of conversations with their assigned students. 

13. Will we be able to regroup with other flash mentors to share experiences and stories for the next time?

Once the program is over, we will be soliciting feedback from the alumni volunteers who participate. If a volunteer would like to connect with another alumni volunteer during the timeframe of activity, they can contact Smeal’s Director of Alumni Relations, Jen Crispell.