Apply to be Matched with an Alumni Mentor

Student information for Mentoring Program

How to Apply - What Students Need to Know

Students should read the information below and fill out the application to apply for the 2022-2023 academic year. Your responses will assist us in the pairing process. Please have the following items ready to upload at the end of the application:

  • Your current resume. Do not worry if your resume is not perfect - your Mentor will be able to help you make improvements! For resume writing tips, please visit the Smeal Business Career Center.
  • A brief statement telling us why you'd like to participate in the Mentoring Program. Please include the following elements when writing your statement:
  1. What are your career goals? If you are unsure, just let us know what you're interests are now. If you've had an internship or other professional experience that you have enjoyed or not enjoyed, this is helpful information.
  2. Provide 2-3 specific objectives for your mentoring relationship. These objectives can be ways you'd like a mentor to help you, advice you'd like to receive, or goals you'd like to achieve with their assistance.

If you are a part of the 2021-2022 Mentoring Program, we invite you to apply to the formal program again to be matched with a new mentor for the 2022-2023 academic year. In addition to being matched with a new mentor, we hope that you will continue your relationship with your current mentor outside of the formal program. If you do not wish to be matched with a new mentor, then you and your current mentor may still stay connected outside of the formal program, and no application or further action is necessary.

Who are the mentors and what is their role?

Students will be matched with a mentor who is an alumnus/a of Smeal. The mentors range from recent graduates to those with many years of working experience and come from various academic majors with experiences and careers in a wide range of industries. Alumni decide to be mentors because they want to give back by sharing their expertise with current students. Mentors serve as role models to the student protégés by providing advice and guidance and sharing personal experiences. Mentors are approachable and willing to give constructive feedback to students, in an effort to help identify goals, develop strategies, and instill confidence.

How do students benefit from the Mentoring Program? 

The Mentoring Program provides students with an invaluable complement to their academic coursework and extra-curricular activities. Students apply to the program to learn about building their network, to identify academic and career plans, or to refine certain skills. A mentor can act as a sounding board for decisions and milestones they might experience during their college career. The purpose of the program is NOT to gain an internship or job. That may be an outcome, but it should not be the main reason a student participates. 

What types of topics do pairs discuss?

Some areas where a mentor can be of assistance include guidance in selecting a major, understanding career paths, discussing a professional area or a specific industry, refining leadership skills, building a personal network, resume and cover letter help, interview preparation, negotiating job offers, transition to the workplace, workplace experiences, and considering an advanced degree.

Who is eligible to apply for the program?

This program is for Smeal students only, or those in the Division of Undergraduate studies or at a Commonwealth Campus, tracking for Smeal. A student must be a sophomore, junior, senior, or 5th-year student at the time of their participation. If a student will be studying abroad or doing a co-op, they are still eligible to apply to the program, however, they should indicate this at the end of their application, and alert their mentor of the unique situation when chatting for the first time. 

How are the matches made?

The matches are made by the Smeal Alumni Relations Office, based on answers provided in the mentor and student applications. Similarities in a mentor's career expertise and a student's industry interests are the top criteria taken into consideration. Also considered are similarities with each person's academic major, how long since a mentor graduated/student's class year, location, and hobbies. Unfortunately, not all criteria can be matched perfectly, so we ask students to keep an open mind when working with their alumni mentor.

What is the time commitment?

The formal program lasts through one academic year (late Aug.- early May). Each pair determines the time commitment based on their goals for the year. It is important that pairs engage in consistent communication, and have mutual expectations for the frequency of interaction (about once a month is recommended). If they choose to, pairs can continue their relationship beyond the school year, outside of the formal program. 

Do alumni return to campus to participate in the Mentoring Program?

Some alumni are able to travel to campus, however, it is not a requirement to participate in the program. The majority of conversations will take place by phone or virtually (e-mail, Zoom, FaceTime, etc.) Technology allows for very successful mentoring relationships to take place!

What resources are provided to students?

  • A Program Guide, which includes some discussion topic ideas.
  • An e-mail template that can be used to reach out to the mentor for the first time.
  • Periodic (about monthly) e-mail reminders are sent and typically include a reference to a relevant topic in the Program Guide
  • Two Mentoring Program Lunches are coordinated throughout the school year if applicable, which offers an optional opportunity for the pair to meet in person. 

How many students and alumni typically participate in the Mentoring Program?

In 2021-2022, there were about 375 pairs participating in the Mentoring Program. We anticipate that the program will continue to serve additional students and involve more alumni over time.