Career Center Launches Pathways Program
Issue   |   Wed, 09/18/2013 - 03:01
Olivia Tarantino ’15: Head Photographer
Students gathered in front of Keefe Campus Center to learn about the new Pathways Student-Alumni Mentoring Program.

On Friday, Sept. 13, Amherst’s Career Center launched the Pathways Student-Alumni Mentoring Program, a program that allows Amherst students to select alumni mentors who share their interests.

Pathways is the latest addition to the variety of resources offered by the Career Center which include help with resume building, study abroad, summer funding, and fellowship advising. However, Christina Ramos, the program director of Pathways, believes that many students are not aware of all the opportunities available to them at the Career Center.

“While I think a lot of students use our resources, many may not realize how we can help them. For example, I’d like to see freshmen and sophomores utilize our services more when thinking about majors or how to go about getting an internship,” Ramos said. “Another group that I feel also underutilizes the Career Center are students who aren’t sure what they want to do. We can help students examine their interest and translate them into possible career choices. For example, we offer Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator assessments.”

The Pathways Student-Alumni Mentoring Program provides students with a way to begin to take advantage of these resources. According to Ramos, who was hired specifically to help lead the program, the Career Center has been working closely with Alumni and Parent Programs Office in order to bring this new mentorship opportunity to students. This program is designed to provide a new opportunity to help students connect classroom experiences to the real world and prepare for career paths. Each student is allowed one mentor per mentoring term. There are three mentoring terms each year: the fall term runs from Sept. 1 to Dec. 31; the spring term runs from Feb. 1 to May 31; and the summer term runs from June 1 to Aug. 31. Students from all class years can find mentors for the fall term until Oct. 25. However, students may create a Pathways profile at any time during the year.

Ramos believes that alumni mentors can be valuable to students.

“Mentors have been in your shoes. They have taken their academic pursuits, interests, and leadership experiences and have translated them to the professional world,” Ramos said. “They are proof that a liberal arts education has value in a professional setting. Whether the alum is young or old he or she has a perspective that can help a student.” Benefits of the program include learning more about a specific industry or career field, developing insight on how to take advantage of your time at the College, and having extra support and perspective on academic pursuits.

The over 400 mentors include directors of marketing, pediatricians, lawyers, non-profit workers,entrepreneurs, surgeons, inventors, authors, television writers, classical singers, event planners, food writers, and architect developers.

“Alumni self-select themselves as mentors. What this means is that we put a call out to the alumni body indicating our need for mentor volunteers and they responded. Many alumni had questions,” Ramos said. “Overall, they were very positive about Pathways and excited for the opportunity to connect with students. Many indicated their wish that a similar program existed when they were students.”

Students can register for the program by logging on to the Pathways website and answering three questions about their interests and goals. Then, students can look through a database containing profiles of potential mentors and email a mentor who seems like a possible fit.

Henry Wu ’17 described his registration process as “fairly simple.”

“My mentor is a doctor at Columbia,” said Wu. “I chose him because he did music and pre-med in college, which are academic pursuits I am interested in.”

Although Wu found his mentor fairly quickly, Ramos says that the Career Center is prepared to help students who have more difficulty finding a mentor. “We are available to meet with students one-on-one through appointments and drop-in hours to discuss Pathways, its benefits, and how students may be able to navigate the process,” Ramos said. “For example, we can advise students on how to reach out to alumni through their request, review initial e-mails and help students think about their profile answers. Any students with questions should not hesitate to come into the Career Center to seek help.”

According to Ramos, students are expected to commit to regular meetings with a mentor, engage in discussions about their goals and, most importantly, take ownership of the mentor-mentee experience. Connections with mentors might include phone, Skype, Facebook messages, text messages or in-person meetings (depending on where the mentor lives).

Alumni and Employer Engagement intern Edith Cricien ’14 says that her main expectation is “a stronger community between Amherst alumni and students. All students will be able to choose based on the student’s field of interest. They will be able to connect with alumni to obtain advice, guidance and networking skills. Alumni are the best resource to Amherst students because they have experienced the life at Amherst that the current students are experiencing. Any student stands to benefit, no matter the class year.”

Ramos also expresses her enthusiasm about the project.

“Developing Pathways has been a very rewarding experience for me and the team involved in its creation. It has been a true collaboration between many offices: web services, IT, advancement, the Alumni and Parent Programs Office, and, of course, the Career Center,” Ramos said. “We all look forward to hearing about successful mentoring relationships. We hope to recruit more alumni into the program that represent a diversity of industries, majors, and interests.”

Freddie Riggins (not verified) says:
Fri, 09/20/2013 - 10:07

Good job Noah!