By Ruth Ormiston, Gustavson External Relations Co-op Student.
Gustavson’s Executive Mentor Program pairs BCom students with a mentor, a member of the local business community. Mentors can help students develop confidence as they enter the business world, hone their networking and communications skills, gain insight into particular industries and everything in between. BCom student Aisha Hunter-Bellavia shared her experience in the mentor program and how it made an impact on her BCom experience.
Why did you decide to join the mentor program?
I decided to join the mentorship program to expand my network in Victoria and learn from industry professionals. As a first-year student, I did not have many ideas of the kind of jobs I wanted to pursue for my co-ops or eventual career. I thought that getting to talk to a mentor in one of my current areas of interest would allow me to learn about potential career options and see if their industry was a good fit.
Who were you paired with? How did you get to know them and communicate with them?
Last year I was paired with Sandra Sparanese, an investment professional at RBC Dominion Securities. We met every month for an hour in her office downtown – this was an excellent way for me to get off campus and become familiar with the bus system in Victoria. Sandra made me feel comfortable from our very first meeting and really took the time to get to know me personally before we discussed school or career topics. We would communicate through email to plan and follow up after meetings. Sometimes Sandra would give me “homework” to help with my personal skill-building or self-improvement. Our relationship has continued past the set program term and I still meet with Sandra now!
What are the 3 most important things you learned from your mentor?
I learned a lot from working with Sandra so far, but these are three of my main takeaways:
- Confidence is key. How we present ourselves and believe in ourselves plays a huge role in how others perceive us.
- How to ace an interview. I continue to work on this one, but I have improved exponentially since going through mock-interviews with Sandra and incorporating her feedback.
- The importance of building your network, especially in a close-knit city like Victoria!
What advice would you give to students who are thinking of joining the mentorship program?
- Join. Honestly, deciding to join the mentorship program was the best decision I made in my first-year. Getting the opportunity to build a meaningful connection with industry professionals is so valuable for your personal and professional growth- take advantage of it!
- Be honest on your application! If you know what you’re interested in, ask for it; express your passion and excitement. If you aren’t completely sure what you’re interested in, that is okay! List your top three industries/areas. The mentorship program team does a great job of pairing students with a suitable mentor. There are amazing professionals in Victoria that you can get the opportunity to work with.
Have a question about mentorship? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.