Many things may have changed since our alumni graduated from UMass Dartmouth, but one constant remains: guidance and expertise of alumni has long-lasting benefits for students.
Alycia Busby ’12 is passionate about serving as a mentor to students and other young professionals entering the workforce. It’s a relationship that helped her as she entered into a career in finance and accounting at Liberty Mutual, and now at Boston Consulting Group. Today, she gives back by sharing her advice with students and those just starting their careers.
“Mentors add a personal element that makes transitioning from student to professional a little easier,” Busby said. “My mentees and I often talk about soft skills like making the adjustment to corporate culture and finding a work-life balance.”
With their unique understanding of a UMassD student’s experience, alumni have the ability to share a Corsair’s perspective on how a student can leverage their skills to stand out from the competition. As students learn more about their desired professions, mentors can give them a glimpse into what the job is like. “My biggest piece of advice is to sharpen your communication skills,” she said. “Practice your elevator pitch, learn how to write professionally. It’s not just about finding a job; ask the right questions to help you grow.”
Busby meets for 30 minutes every other week with her mentees to catch up and discuss any issues they may need help addressing. “It’s a short period of time, but the impact you are making is huge.”
As it develops, the mentor-mentee relationship can follow the student as they adjust to post-graduate life in the workplace. While first-time professionals are trying to understand salary negotiations and benefits packages, mentors can help guide them to ask the right questions. Once they are settled in their new roles, the mentor is valuable source on how to navigate unfamiliar, even intimidating, situations in the workplace. Those personal conversations with an unbiased person can help mentees feel more comfortable tackling challenges, such as how to approach a supervisor about an issue.
“I talk with my mentees a lot about how to make difficult career decisions and defining a career path that aligns with your values,” she said. “Hopefully, they can avoid missteps and lessons that I had to learn the hard way.”
Busby gains just as much from the relationship as the mentee. “A lot people think the relationship is only for the mentee, but really, it’s mutually beneficial. When I am asked, how can I return the favor, my answer is to pay it forward and mentor someone when you’re in the position to do so.”
How to become a mentor on the Corsair Network
- Create your profile on the Corsair Network. Under the “Offer Mentorship” section, check “Mentor a current student.”
“The Corsair Network eliminates the anxiety students and young professionals might have about approaching someone at work or through a cold call on LinkedIn. And, it’s easy to manage the communication there,” Busby suggests. After you’re signed up, students who are matched with you will reach out.
- Await mentor requests from students. They’ll begin reaching out in early October. After you accept a student’s mentoring request, you are officially part of the 2021-2022 UMassD Alumni Mentoring Program.
- When you connect with your mentee, establish expectations for the format of your meetings and frequency.
“Set up what works for you, but define the expectations first. Allow the mentee to schedule the meeting and set the agenda.” Meetings can take place across email, video calls, or in-person chats for a duration of time that fits your schedule.
- Allow the mentee to set the agenda.
- “The mentee is driving the relationship; I am just the co-pilot,” says Busby.
Tips for a successful mentorship
- Be honest and transparent about your advice, as well as your time commitment.
- Guide your mentee to their best outcomes, not to become a clone yourself.
- Offering guidance and encouragement. Share an example from your experience and what you learned from it.