A little concierge

imagesImagine you’re a junior at James Madison University, eager to land a great job in engineering or art history or management. You’ve taken the right classes, made the grades, but the job hunt is daunting. Who can you talk to?

Or you’re a sophomore and think you might want to work in research or education, but you’re not absolutely sure. You’d love to pick someone’s brain — someone who’s been there. Who can you chat with?

Or you’d love to land a job with a Fortune 500 company, but the line forms around the block. Who knows the ropes?

These scenarios face college students every day as they consider their futures. Many have more questions than answers and would love to talk to professionals out in the field, but they don’t know how. More importantly, they don’t know who.

One group of James Madison University alumni would like to change that.

372808_223561371007280_816349185_n“The MetroDukes Alumni Chapter in the Washington, D.C., area wanted to create a program to help current JMU students,” says Kate Williams (’08). “We’ve developed a mentoring program where a JMU student is matched with an alumnus who has similar career aspirations or majors. Through these connections we hope students and mentors can build a meaningful relationship, which could help students in the future with networking and guidance when they enter the real world after JMU.”

Participating alumni will act as advisers and, if all goes well, they will aid students in making a successful leap from college into the job market. Think of them as a little concierge service for the real world.

Kate and Heather Cote (’09), who chair the membership and outreach program for MetroDukes, have developed and run the mentorship program with the assistance of the MetroDukes leadership team.

“All of the members of the leadership team were actively involved at JMU, and since graduation we wanted to stay connected to the university that has already given so much to us,” Kate says. “Through this program we hope to establish relationships between students and alumni who might not otherwise connect.”

Alumni mentors who have signed on to the program range from 1970 graduates to 2012 graduates. Jobs they hold include teaching school to positions with Fortune 500 companies and local sports teams like the Nationals.

“We hope that this wide range of careers will garner great pairings between students and mentors,” Kate says.

The program is open to JMU students of any age or academic class. The spring 2013 program begins next week and will last six weeks, from Feb. 26 through April 9. During these weeks, mentees and mentors will communicate by email and other instant messaging services to discuss and review topics such as interviewing for jobs, transitioning from college to the working world, and social life outside of college.

Participants will receive a topic of the week via email to support the conversations. They are also asked to communicate at least once a week and make the most of the relationship.

To sign up, potential mentors and students should complete a short online survey, which will help the MetroDukes group match mentors and students. The survey includes questions about majors, club involvement and general interests.

After first piloting the program last fall, the MetroDukes hope this recurring mentorship program will continue to connect students and Madison alumni in the D.C. area.

If you’re interested in being a mentor or a student participant, you can sign up through the survey (link embedded above), or contact MetroDukes by email at metrodukes@gmail.com

About grahammb
This blog is about the people of James Madison University — a caring, committed and engaged community spread all over the world, making lives better and brighter, healthier and safer, kinder and bolder. As Gandhi suggested, we are taking steps to BE the CHANGE we wish to see in the world. And these are our stories....

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