Alumni mentors give students the edge on their careers

When UOW students stand on the threshold of their careers, having an experienced mentor in their corner can be the edge they need for a successful start in the workplace.

Published

15/04/2020

Story By

Jessica Sparks

When UOW students stand on the threshold of their careers, having an experienced mentor in their corner can be the edge they need for a successful start in the workplace.

Initiated in 2018, the eight-week UOW Mentoring Program seeks to make this happen. It enhances the employability prospects of current students in their final years of study by matching them with experienced alumni as they prepare to enter the workforce.

Jointly coordinated by Emily Warren from UOW’s Alumni Relations team and Rochelle Boys from the Graduate Career Development and Employability team, the Program has already built valuable relationships between alumni mentors and more than 175 students.

Emily says the Program’s rich learning experience enables a greater understanding of the career paths available to future graduates, helping them to feel inspired to reach their full potential.

“We have alumni participate from all walks of life and all degree backgrounds. These alumni have the drive to make a difference in the lives of UOW students. They vary in age and career level, from mid-level to executive-level management. Some of our most committed mentors are also retired but maintain strong connections with colleagues and networks,” she explains.

For mentors volunteering their time, the program is an investment in the next generation – an opportunity to build capacity, collaborate and enjoy exchanging ideas, setting goals and sharing advice with an enthusiastic starter in their field.

For mentees, it’s a chance to gain precious industry experience and exposure, increased awareness about the workforce they wish to enter, and a better understanding of how to balance career ambitions and wellbeing – things not necessarily learned from books or attending class.

“Our alumni have such a positive impact on these students,” Rochelle observes. “Confidence would be the biggest, most transformative outcome we witness in graduates of the program. We also see mentors greatly assist their mentees in broadening their professional networks, developing their career options and finding clarity on a direction ahead,” she says.

UOW alumna and ‘community in-home nursing’ business owner, Dorothy Fields, has been a mentor with the program twice, describing it as a rewarding opportunity to give back and support students who want to be not just graduates with degrees but exceptional graduates who excel in their careers.

“I’ve discussed with my mentees a multitude of things: what they’ve done, where they are now, what they want from their degrees, their goals and how can I help. It’s satisfying to know you’ve made a difference and helped someone think outside the box to succeed,” Dorothy says.

“It’s an amazing thing to meet someone, work together with them and see them grow. There’s a feeling of fulfilment, gratitude and pride as you impart your knowledge and learned experiences to young people who really want to grow as individuals in their field.

“There’re also little delights, like forming friendships as well as working relationships. I’m so proud of my mentees and I expect I’ll stay in contact with them both.”

One of Dorothy’s mentees is Mabel Adongo, an international student in her final year of a Bachelor of Medical and Health Sciences. The 24-year-old hopes to become a medical scientist specialising in human genetics.

A grateful participant, Mabel says, “I entered the mentoring program to gain industry expertise from someone in the health sector. The program went above and beyond my expectations. I not only acquired insight but discovered thousands of other job opportunities available to me that I hadn’t considered.

“My mentor was a supportive professional who knew when to present me with challenges and when to encourage me to keep pushing. Her advice helped me relate what I’m learning in class to day-to-day life in the health industry.

“Importantly, she always reminded me to not be so caught up in getting to the destination that I forget to enjoy the journey.”

Mabel sums it up well: “When studying, most of us are so caught up in getting perfect grades that we forget that other things can prepare us for our careers as well. Being part of the UOW Mentoring Program has been a priceless experience that I will treasure throughout my career journey and my life.”

Dorothy Fields agrees it’s a fantastic initiative and speaks highly of her experience helping guide these enthusiastic students.

“I thoroughly enjoyed the UOW Mentoring Program and will participate again. I would definitely recommend being a mentor to others. The journey is worth it, it’s a win-win for mentor and mentee.”

Dorothy Fields
Bachelor of Nursing (2014)
Masters in Public Health and Nutrition (2016)

Mabel Adongo
Bachelor of Medical and Health Sciences

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