What is the Mentoring Circle?
Part of the mission of the VCU Alumni African American Alumni Council is to promote and contribute to the recruitment and retention of African American students.
Initiated, sponsored and supported by AAAC members, the Mentoring Circle connects current African American undergraduate students with alumni who have agreed to serve as a mentor for one year. As Oprah Winfrey said, “A mentor is someone who allows you to see hope within yourself.”
We invite and ask alumni to meet students who would greatly benefit from having an e-mentor/mentor to help open doors to internships, apprenticeships or employment opportunities. We also conduct a “mocktail” event to provide students with helpful tips on how to land a job through networking.
Complete the 2021-22 registration form if you are an alumnus or alumna who wants to become a mentor or a VCU undergraduate student seeking a mentor. Mentorships for the next 2021-22 cohort begin April 2021.
- What do mentors do?
Mentors draw on their real-world experience to give students advice about making the right choices in school, getting ahead in their careers and developing social skills. They serve as confidence boosters as well as role models.
Mentors act as sounding boards for students and provide practical feedback. They share ideas, communicate knowledge, identify useful resources and help clarify educational and professional goals.
Mentors often take students to their workplace to give them a firsthand look at “the real world.” And they offer insights on a range of skills, such as developing time-management strategies, approaching faculty members and supervisors, preparing effective résumés, handling interviews and dressing for success.
Mentors also take students to a special conference or to other events to introduce them to new experiences and to broaden their horizons.
- Who participates in the program?
Each mentor is paired with a student who has been chosen because he or she is willing to learn and eager for professional advancement. Students come from all disciplines who enter this phase of the program as a junior classification.
- How much time does it take?
Each relationship develops its own pattern, but as a general rule a mentor is asked to communicate at least twice a month with their mentee. The ongoing relationship is nurtured through phone calls and online contact. There are no boundaries as mentors communicate remotely.
Advice from a mentor
“There are a number of icebreakers, assignments and incentive exercises you can do to engage with your mentee. You can break the ice with the student through an introductory voicemail. This is recommended in lieu of texting and email messages. Additionally, you can send the student on assignments that might be helpful, such as gaining career information, resume building, summer internship research and personal development. Undergraduates need help with stress management, study skills, building their careers and finding correct career information. If a student is reluctant, consider taking them to lunch for a conversation and breaking the ice by going for coffee to see how they are doing. The most important aspect of being a mentor entails being consistent and following up. Being a positive mentor begins with establishing positive interactions and helping your mentee to the best of your ability.”
– Tiffany A. Flowers, Ph.D. (B.S.’99/H&S; M.T.’99/E), assistant professor of education, Georgia Perimeter College