How to make the most of mentor programs

PSU students shaking hands

When I was an MBA student at The School of Business, I had the opportunity to be matched with mentors as part of the business professional mentor program. What I needed most was someone who could give me a perspective on what I may be doing counterproductive to my goals.

I developed strong relationships with the mentors I was matched with as part of this program. I learned a lot about how I prioritize and what mistakes I may be making in my career that I could not see because I am so involved personally. Making a professional connection that becomes a more personal mentorship can be challenging, especially for someone who is more of an introvert but I found it to be a rewarding experience. 

Hearing my mentors perspectives and tips from their journeys helped me navigate the tricky post-MBA career trajectory. While individual mentoring needs and mentors will vary, I think you can learn something from any mentor, and sometimes the most unlikely matches are ones that teach you the most. Hearing their encouragement when I struggled with the job application and interview process, having a framework to outline my priorities and learning better networking strategies are just a few of the areas that I found most beneficial. 

Both of my mentors graduated from The Portland MBA and had specific advice from their journeys. For example, one is an engineer in the technology manufacturing industry and is becoming an executive coach as part of his career development. He recommended a book entitled Living Forward: A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want by Michael Hyatt about defining priorities and living your life by not compromising on what is important to you. He talked about how if something is a true priority, you will not let other parts of life override it, whether it is family, exercise or community involvement.

My other mentor is a customer relationship manager in the financial services sector, and she gave me some strategies for ending conversations without being rude at networking events to maximize the time you have there. She also talked about how to continue outreach to through LinkedIn, internal networking and follow-up meetings. 

If your schedule allows participation in the business professional mentor program, I strongly encourage it. I had mentors prior to my MBA program, and knew that I needed to form new connections along the way. My mentors and I met either in person or over the phone once per month, communicating between meetings as needed.

Like most other parts of life, it requires effort to build the relationship to benefit from it, but if you extend the energy, it can be very rewarding for the mentor and mentee PSU provides a handout that helps facilitate forming the relationship, so even people new to mentorship have something from which to build.

I look forward to being a mentor in the future, giving my time to help PSU students who may need a little guidance along their paths of business school and post-graduation life.

Alyssa Phillips

Alyssa Phillips graduated from The Portland MBA in 2018.

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