Mentors Connect Undergraduates to “Dream Jobs”

By Isabel Weinger Nielsen | College of Liberal Arts

December 5, 2014

“What are your three dream jobs?” That was the question asked of all senior College of Liberal Arts students this fall, and with the assistance of Duane Martin ’67, students are being paired up with Norwich alumni to help them attain those jobs. During last year’s pilot program, Norwich seniors were mentored by alumni employed by such organizations as the US Border Patrol, Vermont State Police, Secret Service, FBI, and Lockheed.

Martin, a member of the COLA Visiting Committee of the Board of Fellows (BoF), was looking for a way to contribute to the future success of Norwich students. He conceived of the idea of starting a mentoring program and presented it to the COLA BoF Visiting Committee and Dean Andrea Talentino, with enthusiastic results. Martin believes that all students can benefit from an alumni mentor, and feels it is important to help students find the jobs they want. Since the University has upwards of 24,000 living alumni (between its undergraduate and graduate programs) who work or have worked in just about every job Norwich students aspire to, he decided to start matching them up.

High-Caliber Students

The mentoring program began as a pilot last year, with a dozen students invited to become mentees. Martin used a personal approach, contacting prospective mentors directly by telephone to explain the program and determine their interests. His tactic worked: The alums Martin approached were incredibly enthusiastic, and went above and beyond Martin’s expectations. Not only did they talk to their mentees, but in many cases they came to campus to meet with them, and even brought students to shadow them in their workplaces. Martin has also been extremely impressed with the quality and caliber of the students. “They are incredibly respectful, bright, and really appreciate the opportunity to have an alumni mentor,” Martin says.

This year, eighteen students have requested mentors, and alumni have responded in a big way. Baylee Annis ’14 is living in Wales and wants to be a writer. She is now in contact with Bob Porier ’66, the author of several history books and numerous published articles. Seth Cecchett ’15 is a history major who aspires to work with the Vermont State Police. He has been paired with Michelle Leblanc ’92, a Vermont State Trooper in the K-9 Unit. Emily Cahill ’15, a Political Science major who hopes to work for Homeland Security, has been introduced to Scott Shelton ’97, a Senior Fellow with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and one of our newest Board of Fellows’ members. Jacob Alderman ’15, an English major with a minor in business administration, will explore a variety of employment opportunities with Robert McElhinney ’04, who works for the US State Department.