By Kim Gannon
Mentors and Cal Poly students gather at the Mustang Mentoring Day event.
Photos by Prentice Wongvibulsin
Alumni love Cal Poly. They love their experiences as students, the beautiful San Luis Obispo community, the lifelong friendships and the quality of the education.
And when Cal Poly asks alumni to give back, they do, particularly when they’re asked to give back to help students. One recent example is Mustang Mentoring Day.
Piloted as a partnership with the Cal Poly Alumni Association and the College of Engineering, nearly 100 Mustangs participated in Mustang Mentoring Day in November. The program was designed as a way to bring alumni and students together in an educational yet informal environment.
Alumni were asked to volunteer and share with current students the things they have learned as productive members of the workforce.
During the day, alumni and students were designated into groups for some team-building exercises and general conversation about careers, career preparation and questions about life after Cal Poly. Dawn Chandler, assistant professor of Management in the Orfalea College of Business, shared a presentation about how mentoring works and the ways in which it has changed over the years to be more of a two-way participatory relationship between multiple mentors and mentees.
Students and alumni then rotated through one-on-one meetings to meet as many other individuals as possible within a short timeframe. After lunch, students ranked the alumni they had met and were given more time to talk with those with whom they’d felt strong connections.
Follow-up after Mustang Mentoring Day was left to the students. And according to alumni feedback, the students are keeping in touch.
Mentor Eugene Jud talks with a Cal Poly student
The event drew alumni from all generations. One event participant said it was the first time he had been back on campus since graduating. Most participants agreed to attend because they saw it as a great way to give back and help current students. Many remarked how much they would have liked this type of event when they were in school.
“Students are courteous and eager to learn,” one mentor said after the day was over. “I enjoyed helping them and sharing my experience.”
Students who participated raved about how the experience allowed them to meet alumni and ask general work questions and queries related to specific programs and career paths. They really appreciated hearing the straight scoop about live after college.
“I was able to bounce my ideas off the mentors, and they gave me some feedback,” one student said. “It was great to get a broader perspective on the working world.”
Although the first Mustang Mentoring Day was targeted for engineers, participants from all colleges and majors were welcome. Plans are under way for more Mentoring Days, so watch your e-mail for announcements.