"UniSA Business Career Mentor Program"
The UniSA Business Career Mentor Program is an innovative scheme that pairs students and recent graduates with experienced alumni and business professionals to enhance employability and leadership skills.
The program was piloted in 2011 with 68 pairs and has grown to 140 pairs in 2013 reaching across 20 discipline areas.
The program is offered to undergraduate and postgraduate students across the Business School studying internally and externally.
All mentors are profiled online allowing prospective mentees to identify their top 3 matches as part of their application process.
The program is managed by the Careers and Alumni team and supported with a custom built database and website. Training, networking opportunities, guidebooks, reflections and a recognition event are built into the program.
Benefit to tertiary students, graduate employers and/or tertiary institutions
The Program pairs students with an experienced industry professional to enhance career development and work-readiness. The mid-way survey of the 2013 program indicated that 78 additional experiential learning opportunities were created for students as a result of their mentor relationship. These included 16 week internships, industry projects, work shadowing and site visits.
‘I would like to thank you for your fantastic work organising this program. The benefits that I have gained from this have gone a long way to setting me up for the future. I was able to gain employment through the Optus Graduate Program, which starts in Sydney during April of 2014. I attribute this success to the guidance that I was given by mentors of the past two years. If I am ever to work in Adelaide in the future I will definitely be picking up the phone to be a mentor.’
The Program directly engages graduate employers as mentors and they benefit from having access to new talent coming through the graduate pool, engaging students for placements that address short term projects within their organisations, developing leadership skills, meeting corporate social responsibility agendas and raising awareness of their brand by having their organisation recognised through the program.
The program allows stronger and more sustainable links to be forged with industry by meeting mutual needs to enhance student employability. The institution benefits greatly from the mentor program as it improves the student experience and supports retention.
Benefit to NAGCAS
The program is an example of how to engage with industry to meet the mutual needs of all stakeholders (students – employability, industry – work-ready students, institution – retention). The model demonstrates the importance and relevance of industry, institution and student partnerships as an essential component to articulation to the work force. The model is also able to be easily replicated by other institutions.
Application/interview process – students must prepare and submit an application and nominate their 3 preferred mentors. This requires that they research the industry and job types they are interested in to justify the match. The interview provides an opportunity to gain experience similar to that when applying for a graduate position. The interview process also includes approximately 10 experiential learning opportunities for HR students to assist in the process gaining valuable work experience relevant to their studies.
Accountability – a LearnOnline (Moodle) site exists for the program that replicates the environment students are familiar with for their program of study. The site houses useful documents, guidelines and process but also allows the submissions of monthly reflections and goals for the program.
Web – a dedicated website for the program exists for both student and mentors so that the information is tailored to the needs of the audience. Students and mentors are able to view profiles, watch testimonials and apply for the program via the site.
Database – a custom built database was developed to allow the program to expand as the level of automation replaces the equivalent of a PT administrator. It also acts as a portal that students and mentors can access to update their details, register for events and access the contact details of their student/mentor.