The School of Business’ Professional Mentor Program is designed to pair current graduate and undergraduate students with a professional mentor, and to celebrate the time spent building community, a Mentor of the Year is recognized annually.
The 2020 honoree is Peter H. Muller, president and owner of Interform and student mentor for over a decade. “I’m thoroughly enjoying it because I’m always learning from students,” says Muller. For him, mentorship is an opportunity to connect over common professional interests, but also to learn across differences: “Being from a more senior generation, it’s always good to be in touch with the youngest and upcoming generation.”
Muller was nominated by his mentee, Victoria Booth, a marketing and advertising student who also serves as an account executive with FIR Northwest, the Portland State’s student-run advertising agency. Booth joined the Professional Mentor Program to get advice from a professional working in the marketing industry, and she says, “I definitely get that from my talks with Peter.”
Especially with the global pandemic and subsequent transition to remote working and learning, Muller’s depth of experience with remote work and insight into the global market were helpful to Booth. “I’m supposed to graduate in the spring and enter the job market in this economy. He has definitely helped me quell my fears and best prepare for that,” she says.
Booth and Muller have built a connection that supports their needs and strengths. Like every relationship built through the Professional Mentor Program, they get out what they put in. “He has been a friend. We can discuss current events and check in with each other on adjusting to what is now a very remote life,” says Booth. “I appreciate everything Peter has done for me this year, especially his dedication of time and sharing of wisdom.”
The Professional Mentor Program
The annual program develops matches to best meet the student’s interests and background, and also takes into account social identity, work experience and professional development factors. The development of a professional network and the mutual benefits of mentorship relationships are critical considerations for the professional staff who run the Professional Mentor Program.
Students can learn from their mentor’s business experience, gathering insight from their challenges, setbacks and successes. Other benefits for students can be clarity on their own career goals, introductions to other professionals in their areas of interest, and feedback on resumes and cover letters.
The participating professional mentors have myriad motivations — provide support and insight for the students, strengthen their own leadership and mentorship skills, and bolster their industries by bridging the gap between higher education and employers. Great mentors come with a variety of skills, attributes, experiences and backgrounds, but those who leave the most lasting impact communicate effectively, make themselves available to listen, provide honest insight and offer encouragement.
To join the Professional Mentor Program, and get matched with a professional mentor to help you with career exploration, professional development and advice, contact Allen Thayer.