Close

Bethel Students Build Professional Connections Through Alumni Mentorships

Mentorship opportunities provide a platform for alumni to encourage, challenge, and guide current students stepping into the professional world.

By Aiyanna Klaphake ’20

October 11, 2018 | 1 p.m.

Bethel Students Build Professional Connections Through Alumni Mentorships

Alumni mentors and their mentees meet and talk during the BethelBiz Mentorship Kickoff event in September. (Photo credit: A.J. Barrett)

Around 70 percent of jobs are found through a connection, according to Will O’Brien, associate director of Bethel’s Office of Career Development and Calling. Fortunately for students, Bethel provides unique opportunities to build those professional relationships with Bethel alumni through mentorship programs. For students, mentorships are a means to gain valuable professional advice and develop meaningful relationships that can impact a future career. O’Brien recommends students take advantage of these opportunities and work to build connections through networking and informational interviews.

“Mentorship is such a powerful opportunity, especially being mentored by a Bethel alum, as they have experienced many of the same things as you,” says BethelBiz Mentorship Fellow Laura Norling ’19, who is beginning her fourth year as a BethelBiz mentee.

The BethelBiz mentorship program, launched by Linda Goodwin ’79, was born out of a vision to enable alumni to prepare students for life after graduation. The program held a trial run with just 25 student-mentor pairs in 2013 but quickly grew to boast 85 pairs for the 2014-15 academic year and over 100 pairs every year since. While originally targeted toward business and economics students, the program has expanded to include students from numerous majors, including political science, computer science, and communication studies. Mentors are from all fields and therefore able to provide a wide variety of professional experience as well as share advice on living out one’s faith in a work environment.

Students and alumni alike fill out applications and participate in an interview process prior to being accepted into the program. Despite the interview process, Norling says the program is far from an exclusive group: “We want all students to benefit from the power of mentoring.” Mentors and mentees are paired based on shared professional interests and experience as well as personality types. Goodwin describes BethelBiz as highly “mentee-driven;” the students are expected to initiate contact with their mentor and to plan topics for monthly meetings. This design intentionally provides a structure in which students can practice skills they’ll need to launch their career. 

Bethel Students Build Professional Connections Through Alumni Mentorships

Alumnus mentor Chris Nordell ’07 with a mentee before they head into the operating room. (Photo provided by Chris Nordell ’07)

“Learning from someone who has gone before you is so important to navigate the workplace… Pouring into others is rewarding and my hope would be that Bethel business students will have a 'pay it forward' mentality when approached in the future by people looking for help or guidance in their career.”

— Alumnus BethelBiz mentor Chris Nordell ’07

Current mentee Madeline O’Reilly ’19 is participating in the BethelBiz program for a second year after landing an internship and eventually a full-time job offer through her connection with her previous mentor. She says, “BethelBiz is arguably the most valuable resource offered to business students. The program fosters relationships between students and alumni working in the professional world. Through this mentorship, students are able to gain exposure to job opportunities and build lasting, beneficial relationships.”

Beginning this year, Bethel’s Department of Communication Studies will offer similar opportunities through its mentorship program, ComMentors. Professor of Media Communication Ripley Smith says one goal of the program is to develop “a sustainable process to recruit alums to be mentors.” The program is student-run and directed by the Lamda Pi Eta honor society leadership team. Students and alumni interested in joining the program participate in an online application process before being paired. Mentors range from professional journalists to underwriters to operations managers in order to provide advice for students interested in a range of professions. Smith says the program is an opportunity for students to “narrow the process to determine what [they] want to do and to build a network.”

Both Goodwin and Smith say many alumni wish they would have had a mentor while in college, recognizing the value they provide their mentees. However, Goodwin says mentors also gain from the experience: “Mentors are inspired and energized by students’ plans and their desire to live out their faith… by seeing strong believers and being able to walk alongside them.” 

Alumnus BethelBiz mentor Chris Nordell ’07 agrees. “[BethelBiz] sparked my interest because of how having a mentor would have helped me during my time at Bethel,” he says. “Learning from someone who has gone before you is so important to navigate the workplace… Pouring into others is rewarding and my hope would be that Bethel business students will have a 'pay it forward' mentality when approached in the future by people looking for help or guidance in their career.” Mentors also receive opportunities to network with other alumni and to ultimately give back to the Bethel community.

Interested in being a mentor or mentee?

Alumni interested in serving as BethelBiz mentors can fill out an online application. Interested students can also fill out an online applicationfor BethelBiz. Alumni and students interested in participating in ComMentors should contact Professor Ripley Smithor Lambda Pi Eta President Madison Pawlyshyn.

Learn more

Publications

Bethel Magazine

Read the current issue.