Homecoming is a fun weekend where NIU Huskies get to come back to campus, cheer on the NIU football team, and reconnect with their alma mater and their friends. But, there is a special group of Huskies who virtually come back to campus several times a year through their contribution to the College of Business’ state-of-the-art e-mentor program. In this program, NIU alumni share practical knowledge about business and managing people.
Through an e-mentoring program each semester, NIU alumni interact with approximately 70 students as part of a required management class. Each mentor is carefully matched with a current student and corresponds with their student throughout the academic semester. These structured interactions result in a meaningful connection between classroom learning and professional development.
This program is unique on several fronts. It is a required component of an undergraduate class required for graduation, and it provides students an opportunity to learn how to communicate via email and network with business professionals.
“Research shows that an individual’s career success and satisfaction are linked to the size of their developmental network and the level of career support that network provides,” said Sarah Marsh, chair of the Department of Management. “As an e-mentor, an alumni could influence a student’s network and provide important feedback about which skills serve as an advantage in the real world. Often, e-mentors proactively initiate connections between their students and other professionals in their network and help them to find internships, which is really a major win for the student.”
Since the beginning of the program, the College of Business has seen more than 1,700 student-mentor relationships, and the results have been fantastic! Nearly 85% of students report that they have gained confidence in establishing mentor relationships as a result of the e-mentoring program. And 57% report that they are likely to stay in contact with their mentor even after the semester and assignment have ended. Mentors have provided our students with important connections to professional networks resulting in internships and job opportunities. Students also comment on the insights they gain from their mentors and their ability to coach them in ways that help them succeed at NIU and in the professional world. With the program entering its 11th year, alumni who benefited from the e-mentoring program when they were students are now mentors, and they are helping the next generation of Huskies succeed.
These types of successes would not be possible without the commitment and dedication of the nearly 300 NIU alumni and friends who actively contribute to our current students’ success. A big thank you to all our alumni and friends who have participated in the program.