Professional Edge Center connects students and alumni

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The Professional Edge Center launched its Mentorship Program in January of 2016 with the first group of 20 students and will conclude the structured mentorship this month. The program is a 12-month commitment between alumni and students in which they meet at least once a month, so that the students can receive information and guidance regarding their future profession.

“It’s an opportunity to acquire professional knowledge, to provide insight, to develop a relationship with somebody who also understands UIndy and what their [the alumni’s] education has provided them since they left,” said Professional Edge Center Director of Career and Community Integration Betsy Knott.

Professional Edge Center employees recommend students they believe will benefit from a certain mentor by matching those with similar careers, interests or personalities. There are no requirements except meeting someone at the Professional Edge Center.

“Every student has different needs,” Knott said. “Some come in and have a direct path, and they’re focused. Other students come in, and they have no idea where they’re going, no idea where they’re going in a career and everything in-between.”

The inaugural class of students met their mentors for the first time in January of 2016, at the Skyline Club in the tallest building in downtown Indianapolis. Of the 20 student-mentor relationships, 14 are continuing their relationship, unaided by the Professional Edge Center. While not everyone continues their mentorship after the time is up, the reasons for discontinuation are varied.

Some of the students are quite pleased with the way the program runs as a whole, including sophomore pre-occupational therapy major Ryan Colliver and sophomore elementary education major Grace Kinsey.

“I’m really happy, especially that the Professional Edge Center and the university have this program because of how in today’s world competitive graduate school [and the] job market are,” Colliver said. “The connections you have between people inside and outside [help] down the road to get a job, recommendation letter or advice.”

Kinsey believes the relationship created by the University of Indianapolis and the Professional Edge Center will last her a lifetime.

“We [Kinsey and her mentor] met throughout the whole year on campus or at coffee shops,” Kinsey said. “He is kind of like [the] person I can lay out anything I’m worried about [with], like my job or school. He always gives me his opinion on it. He jumps right in and helps me however I need helped.”

The program, designed by the Professional Edge Center, teaches alumni how to mentor students and provides talking points to develop the student-alumnus relationship.

“Mentors are trained,” said Associate Vice President for Alumni Engagement Andrew Kocher. “We have a training session and included is a list of suggested talking points. They’re a recommendation from us on what to cover each month with the student. We trust their expertise, and they have the flexibility if they want to add to that list.”

The relationship between student and mentor has a quite a few benefits, according to Kocher.

“The [two] benefits are that we have a strong network of alums who are willing and interested to help students with their professional career,” Kocher said. “[They are] able to tap into the social network that is there for our community. Another benefit is seeing what is available in the profession, what the profession is like from an alumna who has success in that profession [and] answering questions about real-world applications in the profession they’re pursuing.”

Anyone interested in becoming part of the program can express that interest to their Professional Edge advisor, and their name will be written down for consideration. The Professional Edge Center’s Mentorship Program is still in the beta stage, which means only a few people actually may be accepted.

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