Professional Development and Engagement

New CoB LinkedIn group to connect students and alumni for mentorship


by Stephen Briggs

 
David Baker ('97) talking with a Marketing student about his resume - 2016

Pictured: Marketing advisory board member and alumnus David Baker ('97) helps a Marketing student review his resume

Equipping students with skills and opportunities that will accelerate their career trajectory is at the core of the mission of the Office of Professional Development and Engagement (OPDE) at the College of Business. Director Sam Collier strives to keep the programming effective and relevant, and these challenging times call for creative solutions.

“We do a great job connecting students and alumni during our Career Treks to Washington D.C., NYC, Richmond and Northern California, but the treks only impact a small number of students and alumni,” Collier says. She saw potential for growth through a managed group dedicated to connecting students and alumni. “We wanted to start something that all alumni and students could participate in. Starting a special CoB LinkedIn group with mentoring as the focus seemed to be the best way to achieve our goal, especially during this time where networking needs to be virtual.”

These kinds of connections were already happening organically, but not in great numbers. As a student, Nick Aubin (’20, finance) had an interest in working at the Federal Reserve Bank, so he messaged alumnus Jeff Mullen (’09, finance), initially for help landing a job there. After a phone call and in person campus visit, Mullen offered to act as a mentor instead.

“Jeff helped me learn more about the Fed and gave me professional career advice, but the real takeaway was learning how to communicate and make a sincere connection with someone who I have never met in person before,” says Aubin. “This helped me realize the power of LinkedIn and helped me feel more comfortable reaching out to other JMU alumni.”

The value of the mentorship has played a role in Aubin getting an internship with JMU alumni-owned company Hungry, followed by his landing a full-time position with KPMG. His experience has left him in a position to now offer insight to other students.

“I advise students to focus on creating relationships with alumni who have similar personal values and interests,” he says. “For students like me who didn’t know exactly what job they want to do right out of school, creating a relationship with someone who was once in your shoes and shares a similar view of the world makes the relationship much more valuable.”

For Mullen, the rewards for both mentor and mentee are evident. “I wish there was a program like this at JMU when I was there, though I have been very fortunate to gain mentors in a more informal capacity. As alumni, we have an incredible opportunity to provide students with a view into the real world and help grow the next generation of leaders,” he says. “Whether you are a recent graduate or seasoned professional, sharing your knowledge and professional and life experiences can be of great value to students.”

Sam Collier is thrilled with the reception of the idea so far. “We have seen an amazing response to our recent call to alumni to participate. Over 200 CoB alumni signed up to join the network in the first 72 hours of the group’s launch,” she says. “We are excited to see more alumni join and in the coming weeks we will be formally inviting our students to join the group so that student-alumni connections can flourish.”

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Published: Thursday, May 28, 2020

Last Updated: Thursday, May 28, 2020

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