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University of Saint Francis to launch career mentoring program to help students, alumni

June 26th, 2017

By Kevin Kilbane | The News-Sentinel

The University of Saint Francis will launch a mentoring program to help current students and alumni navigate their way through preparing for jobs and building successful careers.

The Talent Nexus virtual mentoring program will begin with the coming school year, said Natalie Wagoner, USF career outreach director. USF will kick off the program and the search for mentors with the event “Breakfast of Champions: Community Impact Through Mentoring” 7:30-9 a.m. July 12 at the Historic Woman's Club in the USF Business Center, 826 Ewing St.

This kickoff event will include USF alumni Andie Mobley and Brad Hartman speaking about how mentoring can impact personal and professional growth, an event announcement said. Refreshments will be provided, and there will be time for networking.

USF will work with Diverse Talent Strategies (DTS) of Indianapolis to implement the mentoring program, Wagoner said. DTS describes itself as a membership organization for corporations and organizations seeking tools to support diversity in their workplaces and to provide mentoring to targeted groups of people, it says on the DTS website, diversetalentstrategies.com.

USF's only previous experience with organized professional mentoring has been through the Entrepreneurial Program with Integrated Cooperatives (EPIC), a program in its business school that included a small number of students, Wagoner said. The EPIC program paired each student with a local business leader and worked well, which encouraged USF to expand mentoring to all students in all career fields, including those at the university's Crown Point campus, she added.

USF currently has a total enrollment of 2,024 students, which includes 142 students at Crown Point and 163 students taking classes online, said Rob Hines, the university's communications director.

The mentoring program also is open to alumni, who likely will find it helpful if considering changing jobs or career fields, Wagoner said.

Mentors will write short biographies and post other information about their career field and skills in the Talent Nexus system, she said. Students and alumni can review the information and select a mentor who seems like the best match for them and for their career goals. If the relationship doesn't work well, she added, students can select another mentor.

Each mentor will work with only one student, Wagoner said. Mentors are asked to make themselves available to the student or alumnus at least one hour per month. They can meet in person or communicate electronically, whatever approach works best for them, she said.

The program gives local companies and organizations the opportunity to "groom" students for future employment by working with them and making sure they have the skills needed to fill job openings, Wagoner said. In addition to career guidance from their mentor, students also will gain a better understanding of what it takes to work in their mentor's job field.

USF will rely on companies and organizations to determine who among their employees have the time and skills to serve as mentors, Wagoner said. The university will monitor alumni who volunteer as mentors to ensure students have a good learning experience.

Wagoner believes USF is the only university in the area using the Talent Nexus mentoring system.