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New program connects students with business mentors

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Furman University’s Undergraduate Evening Studies program is launching the Furman University Career Advancement Program this month to connect students in three accounting and financial management classes with business mentors.

Robyn Miller-17
Robyn Miller, Undergraduate Evening Studies

Robyn Miller, a graduate student in Clemson University’s education and student affairs master’s degree program and an intern with Furman Undergraduate Evening Studies, created the program which will match about 20 students with the mentors.

“We’re recruiting (mentors) like mad,” she said. Anyone in the financial fields, especially Furman alumni but also anyone interesting in mentoring students, can talk with Miller at the Undergraduate Evening Studies office or robyn.miller@furman.edu.

The initial events will begin Feb. 28. The first 30-minute session will connect mentors with mentees to set up meeting schedules and method of contact for the next six weeks. Session 2 is a 45-60 minute interactive professional soft skills workshop, facilitated by Miller with presentations by several of the mentors. The session will cover basic professional presentation skills, networking practice, cover letters and resumes, and interview tips. During Session 3, students will interview for a specific position in a mock interview with mentors.

On March 10, a networking event will be held in conjunction with the Greenville Chamber’s Business After Hours. An etiquette dinner, where students will learn about dining and networking during a meal, will be held March 18 at Furman’s Trustee Dining Hall.

Students participating should “gain some professional skills, increased confidence, connections in the business world, and possibly some lifelong friendships,” Miller said. Mentors, some of whom are returning from a program set up with the Greenville Chamber, could gain “a sense of satisfaction that they help someone younger and satisfaction in developing human capital in the Greenville area.”

Mentoring is a plus for people at all levels, said Tami Miller, Greenville Chamber manager of leadership development programs.

“I think you’re never too old for a mentor,” she said. But “college is a great time to begin.”

Mentorship for young professionals is often a way for them to “discover those things not written in black and white” about a job or career. Pulse, a Chamber organization for young professionals, has a mentorship program known as Pulse Pacesetters that connects Pulse members with community leaders.

“We’re finding the relationships transcend the year together,” she said. “Most of the people who truly have a heart for mentoring have a person in their lives who fed them.”

The Chamber is always interested in mentoring, said Hank Hyatt, Chamber vice president, economic development. “When you get right down to it, the Chamber is about making connections among business leaders and aspiring leaders. That’s the DNA of the Chamber.”

He said Robyn Miller worked with the Chamber and Greenville Technical College’s accounting program to establish mentoring and internship opportunities.

Miller first became interested in creating mentor relationships between business people and students and increasing internships while she had an assistantship with the Chamber’s Education and Workforce Committee. That program focused on mentorships non-technical students at Greenville Technical College and Greenville business people.

She learned that many of the internships for Greenville Tech students and other college students that are available in the Upstate lean toward technical industries.

Gaining knowledge through mentoring relationships and obtaining internships “are the new job requirement,” she said. “It helps the company get to know someone. It helps with all the things you can’t teach in school.”

Mentorship programs help students and business people “make connections and understand the world a little better,” Hyatt said. Mentors also gain from the program as “they get fed energy, enthusiasm, and give back to the community.”

The FUCAP coordinator also learned the value of mentoring through experience as Beth Crews, Furman’s director of Undergraduate Evening Studies, became her mentor while she was at the Chamber. That relationship led to her internship at Furman, her third while she has been a graduate student. She also held internships in the Civic Engagement Office at Clemson and Greenville Tech.

The Furman program is actually a modification of the Chamber program, she said.

Learn more about Furman Undergraduate Evening Studies and FUCAP.

 

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com.

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