Just about a year ago, the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISyE) launched MentIEs, a mentorship program designed at connecting undergraduates with ISyE alumni who can offer real-world practical insights students might not otherwise receive inside the classroom.
“Students who want to have a career outside academia need to learn from people who have been there and know hot it is done,” Damon P. Williams said at the time. Williams is a senior lecturer and director of ISyE’s Center for Academics, Success, and Equity (CASE), and was recently named the College of Engineering’s first associate dean for inclusive excellence and chief diversity officer.
After a pilot program this past year, which saw high levels of participation from both students and alumni, Williams heard quite a bit of feedback from the students. Students loved the opportunity and gave great reviews of their mentors, but most had one specific request:
They wanted the opportunity to meet and network with other mentors around the program, whom they had heard about from their peers throughout the year.
On Sept. 19, this year’s cohort of mentees got that opportunity at the program’s kickoff event. Students and alumni mentors from around the country came together for an evening of food and networking, where no question was off limits and students were able to hear advice from individuals in a variety of fields.
“Simply put, it just broadens your scope,” second-year student Quincy Howard said of the event. “You get so many different perspectives through people’s careers and their experiences at Georgia Tech. It broadens your scope on what you think you can do and what your degree can do for you.”
The dinner was modeled like a speed dating event. Students and mentors were assigned to a table to begin the evening, where they ate dinner and got to know each other. After dinner and a 15-minute networking round, the bell sounded and students moved to a new table. There, they spoke with a new cohort of mentors who had entirely different experiences and perspectives than the group they left behind.
There were presidents of technology companies and consultants, sales excellence managers and optimization experts, CEOs and business founders. There were those who had long-since graduated and others who were in the early stages of their careers.
“There’s no way we were getting another opportunity like this,” said Harish Kanthi, another second-year student who said he couldn’t pass it up when he heard about it in Williams’ class. Laughing, he added, “The net worth in this room is off the charts.”
Students involved in the program will continue to connect with their mentors, as well as their new connections developed at the dinner. For the mentors, it’s a great opportunity to pass on their experience to a new generation and to find bright minds they may be able to call upon in the future.
View a full list of mentors and companies who participated in the kickoff event below: