As a business administration major with an emphasis in marketing, Adam Chojnacki was not sure what direction his career would take. That is, until he met Paul Lemens through the UW-Green Bay Cofrin School of Business’ mentoring program.
“He helped me apply what I am passionate about,” he said. “We have touched on strengths and weaknesses, shed light on future goals and discussed what kinds of business exposure I would be most interested in.”
Launched last summer, the College of Business’s mentoring program is designed to help first generation college students be successful outside of the classroom, said Matt Dornbush, the dean of the College.
The program is one of several activities supported by donors and sponsors of the college’s Business Week, and specifically, gifts to the Experiential Learning Fund.
“The program creates a support network and provides that non-classroom component to be successful, such as learning how to network, putting together a resume and what you can expect when you start that first job,” he said.
Lemens, who works for ETM, a part of Graco Inc., viewed mentoring as a way to give back for the help he’s received from others.
“Personally, I have benefited from simply getting to know Adam,” he said. “He has a great outlook on life and I think he has a bright future. Discussing strengths and passions was a two-way street.”
In the program’s initial year, 27 students were paired with professionals, said Kathryn Marten, student and community engagement coordinator for the college.
“We discovered 54 percent of incoming business students were first generation students and felt (pairing those students with) a mentor would be beneficial,” she said. “We also found professionals are interested in connecting with students, and see it as a way to give back and help someone else.”
For Brittany Cassidy, a marketing major interning at Kohler Co., having a mentor allowed her to learn more about subjects not covered in the classroom, such as networking. She was matched with UW-Green Bay alum John Hassman, an analytics leader/project mentor at AbbVie in Illinois.
“John’s really helped me understand what kind of job I wanted and is helping me connect with people,” Cassidy said. “John had a lot of connections and made a list of people I could meet with in person or virtually to explore different career options.”
Hassman agreed, adding he enjoyed “sharing my own experiences with her. I facilitated some introductions for her, which can be valuable.”
The mentors are a mix of UW-Green Bay alumni and people seeking increased student interaction, Marten said.
The program’s goal is that the mentors and mentees stay in touch after graduation, said Dornbush. In addition, Dr. Corey King, Vice Chancellor for University Inclusivity & Student Affairs, played an integral role in getting the program started.
“We hope they are able to create a relationship so a year or two down the road, the mentee can reach out if he or she has any questions and the mentor will still be there,” Dornbush said.