January is National Mentoring Month
By Tobin Vaughn
With the spring semester set to begin, SDSU Career Services is urging alumni to volunteer now to assist students through the Aztec Mentor Program (AMP). AMP helps students move from campus to career—a pressing need for many students graduating in spring 2020.SDSU Alumni are urged to sign up as mentors with AMP by January 21.
January is National Mentoring Month and between January 21 and February 28, as many as 2,000 SDSU upper-division and graduate students are expected to register with AMP to be matched with mentors. Since the program began in 2013, more than 10,500 SDSU students have participated in the program with demand for alumni mentors increasing each year.
Mentors from every degree field are needed, however alumni with careers involving science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) are encouraged to volunteer. Students in STEAM-related areas of study often have specific needs in reaching their academic and career goals and can greatly benefit from the guidance of a mentor with professional experience.
“STEAM students who are the first in their family to attend college often find a mentor’s advice to be extremely helpful,” said Diane Marin of Alumni and Career Development in SDSU Career Services. “Alumni, in STEAM fields especially, can provide both valuable insight and reassurance to these students who may lack a career professional in their lives with whom to share ideas and solicit feedback.”
MAKING THE RIGHT DECISIONS
One such mentor is Phil Miller (’15) (pictured right, with mentee Abdirahman Mohamed), who earned a computer science degree and now works as a senior consultant with Deloitte Advisory. He participated in AMP as a student, then became a mentor upon graduation. Most of his mentees have been STEAM students.
Although he has connected with students in a variety of ways ranging from on-line chats to telephone conversations, Miller said he prefers face-to-face meetings. From the outset he tries to identify his mentees’ greatest needs, then works to provide answers to their questions and solutions to their problems.
“I just help them with whatever they want,” he said. “For some people, it just comes down to resumes,” he said. “For others it’s career advice in general, like how to navigate certain conversations and discussions. I measure my success (as a mentor) by the quality of mentoring and guidance I can provide and it varies from person to person depending upon what they are seeking.”
The relationships, Miller insists, are mutually beneficial. He said he derives a sense of both humility and pride from being a mentor.
“Humility because it’s great to see other people find their own way and wisdom from what you have imparted to them. Then there’s pride in realizing you were able to help further someone’s progress - a sense of fulfillment.”
To those professionals who question whether they have something to offer a student, Miller’s advice is direct: “You were able to get a job, so you provide value to the people you are mentoring who want to understand how to go about that process.
“It’s basically ‘here’s how I did it, here are the challenges I faced, and here is what I can share so you can avoid these challenges to help propel you a little bit further along.’” That simple how-to discussion, he said, can be eye-opening for many job-seeking students.