Dons Helping Dons, a Mentor Program, Brings Real World Closer

 

Whether or not the post-grad life has yet to manifest itself into something tangible (and scary), USF students are now able to connect with fellow USFers who are already out there.

Dons Helping Dons (DHD) is a mentorship program that connects USF students with alum who share advice, guidance, and information. The program works through the LinkedIn group of the same name, which is open to past and current USF students.

“The ultimate goal is for students to have someone to talk to about what they want to do, and to hear it from someone who really does it,” said Alex Hochman, assistant director of the Career Services Center. Hochman created and manages the site along with student assistants Khadijah Powell, Diana Guardado, and Veronica Palafox.

As a freshman studying exercise sports science, Powell often found herself surrounded by fellow students who discouraged her from attending medical school after graduating from USF. “They’d say that it was too hard and that it would take too long,” she said. Her mentor suggested she should “just go for it,” which has given her a more positive, motivated outlook on her next three years of college.

“This program has many benefits for students such as developing a support system, networking with professionals, and receiving advice from those who have been in your shoes before,” said Guadardo, a freshman media studies student. “It’s the perfect chance for a student to be ahead of the game!”

Of the approximate 1,060 DHD members, about 820 are alumni and 240 are students — and the numbers are quickly increasing. DHD started in October, but has since gained a large, loyal following of active users posting almost daily. The alumni come from a range of degrees, including business, communications, and nursing, and job experiences vary between managers, directors, and executives. Students can narrow down their search for a mentor by location, type of work, and organization.

Group members are advised to not view the site as a resource for immediate internship or job opportunities, unless specified. Alex Hochman said that students who build a relationship with their mentor may find it appropriate to eventually ask the big question. “If you’re looking for a place to find an internship by tomorrow, this isn’t it,” he said. “But if you’re a senior who’s built a relationship with a mentor, go for it. Just not right off the bat.”

This is how it works: Mentors post their job industry background on the

LinkedIn DHD discussion board. Students interested in learning more can comment on the post and send a personal message to the mentor. From there, students follow up however they choose, whether it be through email, meeting up for coffee, or talking over Skype. There’s no obligation to stay connected with mentors, but it probably wouldn’t hurt. Jobs are nice, right?

For more information on Dons Helping Dons, visit www.usfca.edu/donshelpingdons.

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