Story by Zach Avery, Editor-in-Chief
Entering its fourth year, the Alumni Association Leadership Council (AALC), with partnerships from the AQ Advantage Center and Leadership Development program, is currently seeking applications for their annual Alumni Mentorship Network program. The upcoming cohort will work with their paired alumni mentor at least every month for the 2022-2023 term year, and the AALC is seeking students and alumni of all ages and backgrounds.
“I was actually a mentee in the first cohort, and I had a really good experience,” said Dan Diederich, AQ alum and chair of the alumni association’s professional development committee. “I had Josh Marko, who was president of the AALC at the time, as my mentor. He really helped me with my transition from college life to professional life.”
Applicants are assigned to their mentor pair through a careful process. The AALC sorts through questionnaire data and points out which students share similar interests, work experience or expectations of the mentorship program with certain prospective mentors. Once everyone has been matched, an introductory event takes place as one whole cohort. Then, the mentor and mentee are free to meet on their own every month for that school year.
“It is good to get face-to-face time with the person you’re forming a relationship with, so we try to create opportunities and fun events to make that happen,” Diederich said. “We also encourage socializing with other mentor/mentee pairs.”
These social events span a wide range, from attending a Grand Rapids Griffins game at Van Andel Arena to meeting off-campus for a quick cup of coffee in Eastown. Once you find your mentor, it is truly up to you to make the Mentorship Network your own and to take advantage of the time you have with them.
“For juniors and seniors, they’re going to start applying for jobs,” Diederich said. “It is a lot easier to get your foot in the door when you have that warm introduction with somebody like a mentor.”
Connecting with an older generation is important for every individual, and Aquinas seems interested in providing more avenues to do so, including the “Generation Swap” course and podcast, where students connect with older Grand Rapids locals and chat about topics that affect us all, young and old. The Alumni Mentorship Network seeks to do the same thing, only in a professional capacity.
“We are really proud of all the progress we’ve made, and hopefully we get more people to sign up and keep the momentum going,” Diederich said.