May 2, 2011

Mentoring Provides Valuable Opportunities for Students

Josh Woeste, a Cincinnati native currently in his third year as an account major at the University of Cincinnati, credits the relationship he has with his mentor for changing his future. “My mentor was able to tell me so much that can only come from real life experience and was able to give me hands-on opportunities to see and practice the advice she had given me,” he said.

Josh was part of a pilot class at UC, offered exclusively to sophomores, junior and senior Kolodzik Business Scholars. One mandatory aspect of the class, Business Professionalism, was to participate in a mentor-mentee program that matched students with experienced professionals based on their background, interests and skills.

“I have been told all along that building a network is one of the biggest keys to success,” said Josh. “I saw this class and the required mentor-mentee relationship as a prime opportunity to network with someone who is a successful professional in the field which I hope to pursue.”

Ashley Walker, Program Coordinator in Career Services at UC’s College of Business, was responsible for pairing interested students with available mentors. “In Josh’s case, we had a student who, was looking to learn more about the accounting field and different career paths within the profession,” she explained. “So we paired him with a mentor in the accounting field who could share insights and professional skills that would add to Josh’s in-classroom experiences.”

For Josh, that meant being paired with Jackie Neumann, a UC graduate and director at Deloitte and Touche’s downtown Cincinnati office. Josh said, “I have always hoped to someday work for a Big 4 Accounting firm, but I always assumed I would have to get through school, get a job and build experience, and then look to apply for a job at a Big 4.”

But Josh’s relationship with his mentor changed all that. While shadowing Jackie one day, Josh ran into a UC student doing his co-op at Deloitte. When he found out Josh’s own co-op had fallen through, he offered to pass along Josh’s resume… which eventually landed Josh an interview, and later, an offer for a fall 2011 co-op experience.

“This definitely changed the trajectory of my career,” Josh noted. “I feel like I am leaps ahead of where I would have been otherwise. Over the next two years, I plan to focus on being successful with Deloitte and, hopefully, will be ready to advance within in the company after graduation.”

In addition to landing a co-op, Josh’s relationship with Jackie has also led to value opportunities that he may not have had the opportunity to experience without the Business Professionalism class. “I honestly feel like the information and knowledge I have gained from my mentor–mentee relationship cannot be obtained in the classroom,” said Josh. “I have been able to build a small network of professionals outside of my teachers and classmates. 

“You can be told how to act in school, but there is nothing compared to real life experience,” he continued. “Through the mentorship program, I feel like I was placed in situations I have never before experienced and now know how to be a professional. I feel like these experiences will definitely place me a step ahead in my future job hunt.”

As a result of the experiences of Josh and the other students in the pilot program, the Business Professionalism class will become a full-time addition to the UC course catalog this coming fall quarter. It will be available to any business student. Josh said he plans to encourage other students to participate in the class.

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