Introducing Alumni Advantage, QUEST’s New Mentorship Program

By: Chineme Obiefune (Q25) and Jacob Wilkowsky (Q19)

We’ve all watched the speech. The one with the uber-successful CEO, competitive athlete, or nobel laureate, where they share their life achievements and how they reached the mountaintop. Maybe you watched Steve Jobs’ Stanford commencement address or saw a Tony Robbins Ted Talk. Phrases like “grit,” “failure,” “mastery,” and “happiness” repeatedly pop up. However, in this article, we focus on a buzzword sure to make an appearance as you surf Youtube’s catalogue of inspirational talks– mentorship.

QUEST embraces the consensus that strong mentorship is critical to a budding career. As such, the program launched the Alumni Advantage program, a revamped alumni mentoring program aimed at matching motivated students seeking career, industry, or graduate study guidance with an alumnus who has similar interests or experience in the area that the student wants help with. Alumni Advantage is a no strings attached program – students may only have a couple of questions or seek a long-term “mentor”/”mentee” relationship; it’s their choice.

With all of the benefits that mentorship has to offer, one drawback is often overlooked. Students don’t always have the time and energy to keep up a long-term relationship with a mentor in their industry. Classes, work, assignments, and other responsibilities can get in the way of developing a deep, long-term connection with their mentor. Thus, the Alumni Advantage program allows them to connect with an alumnus for a brief chat or a long-term conversation, depending on what they want.

We reached out to the QUEST community to hear more from students and alumni about how they view the Alumni Advantage program so far.

Isabelle Lock – Neurobiology and Physiology – Cohort 25

Where did you hear about the Alumni Advantage program?

I found out about the program from the TWIQ (This Week In QUEST Newsletter Update).

What do you hope to gain from the program?

I thought it would be beneficial to get the perspective of a former QUEST student who’s now in the real world.

How has your mentor been able to help you?

I was looking to deviate away from medical school, and he was able to give me some perspective from that industry. He had a lot of friends looking at medical school in undergrad and helped me see that just because I’m a biology major, I don’t have to necessarily go down a research route.

Chyanne Nader – Civil Engineering – Cohort 26

What is mentorship to you?

Mentorship is having someone to look up to and someone who can guide you when you are confused. It’s having someone in your field who can help you out.

What type of relationship would you want to have with a mentor?

A relationship where you don’t have to talk to them everyday and maybe check in with them once or twice a month.

What are some differences you experienced between the short-term and long-term forms of mentoring?

In the short-term, my mentor Veronica was big on skyping. In the long-term, you’re more likely to be sending emails back and forth. Therefore, a pro of the short-term is that the alumni really wants to get to know you in a quick amount of time. When you meet up, it’s more personal. It also takes a long time to get to know someone which often isn’t necessary for your needs.

After getting the perspective of students participating in the program, we reached out to Aditya Yerramilli, the Alumni Advantage lead on the QUEST Alumni Board to hear his thoughts on the program.

Aditya Yerramilli – Forensic Program Manager at Google – Cohort 15

How do you believe this iteration of the QUEST Mentorship Program differentiates itself from prior versions?

We designed this mentoring program to be leaner and quicker, get students connected fast, and help address their questions immediately. It is not meant to be an overly formal program, but rather something that students can touch and go with as they need to.
The latest iteration of the Alumni Advantage program was launched March 1st and currently includes 35 total mentees and alumni (5 – CMNS, 12 – Clark, 18 – Smith). Based on our investigation the reviews are certainly positive.

Thanks to all of the students, alumni, and faculty who aided us in the writing of this article. QUEST certainly has a lot to look forward to, and we cannot wait to see how the Alumni Advantage program benefits the community!

If you’re an alumnus interested in getting involved, please sign up here! If you’re a student interested in getting involved, please sign up here!

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