Today I am pleased to welcome alumnus and Jepson Alumni Corps member Braxton Bragg, ’06, and alumna Brittney Quinones, ’13, as guest bloggers. They have been facilitating the Jepson School of Leadership Studies’ new alumni-student mentoring program. Their post is the last Leadership Speculations blog post until the beginning of the fall semester. Enjoy! ~ Dean Sandra Peart
Informal mentorship has long been a part of the Jepson community, especially as developed through interactions at the Jepson EDGE Institute, an alumni-coordinated professional development program for Jepson School juniors. In February 2019, the Jepson Alumni Corps (JAC) launched a more formal mentoring program at EDGE. Ever fans of a good pun, we alumni dubbed the program Jepson Shipmates (as in, leaderSHIP).
Yes, it’s a little corny, but we like the metaphor that all Jepson grads (and students, who will soon join the alumni community!) are in the same boat. We need to look out for one another and lend a helping hand when we can. All aboard!
Jepson Shipmates is designed to be a student-driven mentor/protégé initiative. We alumni support and advise our student shipmates with whatever they may need; however, the onus is on the students to define how they’d like to use their mentors, what specifically they are interested in learning about or seeking advice on, and how often they want to engage.
In advance of launching each successive class of mentors/protégés, the JAC Alumni Engagement Subcommittee matches each alum with one or two students, based on professional interests and experience. This serves as a starting point for fostering relationships. Given that Jepson students have so many different goals and states of readiness for post-graduation life, we decided not to standardize communications within the program; but we do give some guidance to both mentors and students.
Once pairings are complete, we send alumni information on their shipmates’ academic and career interests and future goals. We then ask alumni to introduce themselves to their students by offering some basic personal and professional information and fun facts. This helps start the conversation prior to the pairs’ first meetings.
Because EDGE is such a strong facilitating mechanism for relationship building, we have paired students with only those alumni who attend EDGE. We may expand upon this structure in coming years as the program evolves. Meanwhile, we continue to collect feedback from alumni and students in order to improve our pairings and overall approach.
How have we helped our student shipmates? In many ways! We engage students in resume review and feedback, mock interviews, internship and career brainstorming sessions, sharing strategies for negotiating the difficulties we encountered in internship and job searches, managing the initial transition to working full-time in a professional environment, mistakes and lessons learned, financial management, help with work-life balance, and more.
We’ve now had two classes of shipmates and much of the feedback has been positive. We’ve learned that alums often introduce their protégés to other Jepson alums who can help or advise on specific subjects. All in all, we’re incredibly excited about the future of the Jepson Shipmates and its potential to strengthen the broader Jepson community.
Photo: Braxton Bragg, ’06, and Brittney Quinones, ’13, speak to students at the Jepson EDGE Institute in February 2020.