Cal Poly Pomona is seeking alumni to share a bit of their time, along with their insights and experiences, with current students through the new Bronco Mentoring Program.
The program, a collaboration of the Alumni Association and the Career Center, helps students to reach out to a network of volunteer alumni mentors for advice.
“The students that were engaged in the program all say that it’s helpful,” said Andrea DeCoudres, assistant director of Alumni Affairs. “The alums enjoy mentoring. They’re at a point in their careers where they’re looking to give back.”
About 900 mentors had joined in the program in the past, but it was on hiatus for about two years. With the recent rollout of the Career Center’s new web portal, Handshake, alumni are once again invited to join the rosters to share their acumen with the current crop of Broncos.
Among the first students to seize the opportunity was Sandie Lo, a junior majoring in chemical engineering. She contacted not just one alumni mentor, but three.
“I have to say, I really enjoyed it,” she said. “It’s a way to network with the alums in a very comfortable, friendly manner.”
And although the mentors she connected with do not share her major, Lo said they have nonetheless proven to be valuable resources.
“The mentorship program is really helpful. I really suggest it to all the students here at Pomona,” Lo said. “I just really enjoy talking to them. They have so much advice and share things they wish they knew when they were students. I really did gain a lot from them.”
About 100 mentors have signed up on Handshake since the program returned this quarter. The current priority is to rebuild a strong roster of alumni mentors who can provide students with the widest possible array of resources.
Once they sign up, individual alumni and students decide how they’ll be involved, which can range from a quick chat to more long-term coaching, according to Career Center Director Tom Munnerlyn.
“It’s up to the alumni to set the parameters,” he said. In some instances, students end up touring workplaces with their mentors. Other times, “they may email a couple of times or talk on the phone once.”
“It’s just a good way for students to make that connection, especially with an alum that was in the same program or major that the student is in,” Munnerlyn added.
John Poli (’93, political science) recently added his name to the directory of alumni mentors. He is the immediate past president of the Alumni Association Board of Directors and is a contracting services manager for a local water district.
“That’s why I joined the Alumni Board,” he said. “It’s about the mentoring.”
Poli said he hopes many students take advantage of the program.
“There’s a comfort level that we can give these students to say: ‘Yes, that happened to me, and this is what I learned from it,’” he said.
In addition to the “book knowledge” students will graduate with, the mentoring program will contribute to their education in practical knowledge, Poli said. “That’s what I’m really hoping to be able to bring to the table.”
Visit the Bronco Mentoring Program website to learn more and sign up as a mentor or mentee.