EDITORIAL: Marquette must strive to create better mentorship programs


Photo by Maryam Tunio / maryam.tunio@marquette.edu

The Marquette Connect website for alumni claims that Marquette offers many opportunities to connect established alumni with students and recent graduates for mentoring relationships. There are notably five mentorship opportunities: CIRCLES eMentor Network via LinkedIn, the Marquette University Alumni Association Mentor Program, the College of Business Administration Mentor Program, Diederich College of Communication Mentoring Program and the College of Nursing Project: BEYOND.

While these five programs are noteworthy, for a university of almost 12,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional studies students, Marquette must strive to create more mentoring opportunities and networking efforts for its students to help ensure success beyond the bounds of campus.

For example, The Business Administration Mentor Program is the College of Business Administration’s mentor program that other Marquette colleges should strive to imitate. Every year this program helps 250 business students and alumni form productive relationships. Alumni communicate with their students and share insights on career choices, interviewing skills and career development. The program runs throughout the academic year, and generally speaking, students are pleased with the relationships they form and the business understanding they gain on behalf of the program.

If we are willing to say these programs are for all students, Marquette must make the mentor programs as inclusive as possible. Only two of these programs are somewhat broad in terms of a student’s ability to participate. Unfortunately, the MUAA Mentor Program is only available to students in the Colleges of Health Sciences, Communication, Arts & Sciences and Engineering. This means the program excludes three of the undergraduate affiliated colleges – the Colleges of Nursing, Business Administration and Education – and five graduate and professional studies colleges.

Academic programs at Marquette vary in the ways they prepare students for the professional world,  and should strive to create mentorship programs that cater directly to their students. For example, the College of Arts & Sciences is diverse, and each major is multi-faceted in terms of where one can go next. While so many options create exciting opportunities, they can be overwhelming. With mentors, students can plan strategically and narrow down the career path of their choice.

One of Marquette’s great selling points for prospective students who tour the university is how incredible the alumni association is. Yes, it is true: blue and gold runs deep, and professionals across the country are excited when recent Marquette graduates express interest in the firm or field in which they work. Talk and praise of the alumni association is one thing, but practice – actually connecting with current students – is what really makes the difference.

Strengthening the mentor programs will be a joint effort by university colleges and students. If students see these programs as opportunities, they must understand the hard work that goes into creating a relationship with said mentor. As young professionals, students need to assume responsibility for communicating.

When reflecting on the Marquette experience, students want to look back with pride at the opportunities they had. From service involvement to research or studying abroad, students have options. With that said, students are wary that college is (roughly) four years, and then it’s time for the real world. Improving mentorship efforts at Marquette will give students a leg up in their professional careers, and they will look back and aspire to do the same for the future generations of students, because that’s the kind of student body we are.