Getting a job is one thing, but being an effective, high performer in a job requires soft skills development inside and outside of the classroom. That’s why the Executive Partners Mentorship Program at the Wake Forest University Schools of Business provides a formalized opportunity for graduate students to work one-on-one with an experienced professional.
“This is personal and professional development. Mentors help students explore interpersonal communications in a work environment, how to manage priorities, and provide insight on how to balance time to achieve work-life balance,” said Hansford Johnson, Director, Executive Partners Mentorship Program.
Students are matched with a mentor based on a personal interview and a computerized assessment tool. The pairs often find they have a common bond with career interests, hobbies and communication styles.
“My mentor is also interested in jazz, micro financing and international development. It’s almost strangely bizarre how well we get along,” said Mikel Alderman (MA ’11). “It’s a great experience and I am happy to be part of it.”
Alderman’s mentor is Darryl Little, director of the Micro Enterprise Loan Program of Winston-Salem/Forsyth County. “I am learning as much from him as he is from me,” Little said. “Mikel is a bright person and hopefully he will go on to change the world.”
Abby Ruud (MA ’11) is working with Wake Forest alumna Angie Orth (MBA ‘98), vice president of regional development for Advanced Home Care. “Angie is a great resource, she got her MBA at Wake Forest, so she knows a lot of the things I am going through. I am getting a lot out of the mentorship personally and professionally.”
Orth believes so strongly in the benefits of mentorship that she encouraged several of her company’s executive leaders to take part in the Executive Partners Mentorship Program. “I have had a mentor coach for the whole time I have been in a senior leadership position. That’s been instrumental in being able to think differently, look at a situation from an alternate point of view by getting an external opinion,” Orth said.
Allen Helms (MBA ’99), Chief Information Officer for Advanced Home Care, is matched with Andrew Hall (MA ’11). “I have been able to get perspective on the business world from someone who has practical knowledge outside of the classroom from someone who has had experience in a field I am interested in. It has given me an opportunity to see things from a different perspective,” Hall said.
“I am grateful to the Executive Partners Mentorship Program for setting me up with such a phenomenal leader who has so much in common with me,” said Sandie Taylor (MBA ’11). Taylor’s mentor is Gayle Anderson, president and CEO of the Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce. “She has helped me evaluate various career options and understand the benefits and tradeoffs of each since she has worked in many of the environments I’m considering.”
Mentors and students meet regularly and follow a structured program to maximize the time spent working together. Students have opportunities to visit their mentor’s workplace, attend meetings and participate in training activities to familiarize themselves with managerial responsibility and corporate culture.
“A key role for a Mentor is to listen to a student, offer advice and also help connect them with other people that can offer a perspective as they navigate their career options,” said Guy Groff, director, Career Management Center. “It goes beyond just how to find a place in their desired career, but how to be successful.”
For more information on the program, contact Hansford Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org or (336) 758.4077.