Ilitch School Corporate Mentor Program wraps up successful first year

The Mike Ilitch School of Business Corporate Mentor Program is celebrating considerable success as it reaches its first anniversary.

The program supports professional development for first-generation, upper-division students at the Ilitch School, as well as establishes a vital link between students and alumni and business communities.

According to Amber Conway, co-director of the Corporate Mentor Program, it was developed and implemented in summer 2015 as one of Dean Robert Forsythe’s student success initiatives.

“In his prior role at the University of South Florida, Dean Forsythe worked closely with a mentor program that he was really passionate about. He felt a similar program would work for Wayne State students, too,” Conway said. “The Corporate Mentor Program is beneficial for students who don’t have time to visit the Career Planning and Placement office or do an internship, due to commuting, working and taking a full course load.”

Through the program, students are paired with mentors who can best support their professional and personal goals, with partnerships lasting a full academic year. Mentors must be well-established in their companies with at least five years of career experience. They take students to meetings and events at their corporate offices, offer input on resumes and prep them for job interviews.

They also engage with students on topics including avoiding mistakes in the first five years on the job, how to narrow down professional interests, networking and more.

“Corporate mentors participate in the program as unpaid volunteers. They meet face-to-face at least monthly to support their students’ professional and personal growth, and most are in more frequent contact with them via email, phone and text,” Emily Kravetz, co-director of the program, said.

Conway said the program started out with five students and five mentors, but grew to 50 students and 50 mentors within the first year.

“We have a waiting list of interested mentors, and word of mouth has been driving student applications,” she said. “It’s definitely a commitment and the student has to make it a priority. What they put into it is what they get out of it.”

Kravetz said several students have already landed internships and jobs as a result of mentor relationships.

“The payoff to the students is almost too much to capture,” Kravetz said. “We literally see their self-confidence both on a personal and professional level grow almost immediately after they start meeting with their mentor. Many mentors have become friends and trusted confidants.”

Some companies who provide mentors for the program are Ally Financial, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Henry Ford Health System and Plante Moran.