Senior Evan Harris came to the University of Richmond intending to become a lawyer until he met the president of the Alumni Association and his personal mentor, Sam Kaufman.
When he met Kaufman during his third year, Harris didn’t know anyone who he could talk to about pursing a degree in law, he said. Kaufman invited him to his office and by the end of the meeting, offered Harris a summer internship with his firm.
After spending the summer interning with Owen & Owens in Midlothian, Va., the outgoing RCSGA president realized he did not want to go to law school, he said.
Harris’ relationship with Kaufman inspired him, in conjunction with RCSGA, to pilot an alumni-mentoring program this spring that will connect students with alumni working in their intended career fields. The goal of the program, he said, is to provide students with a professional source of career guidance and advice that they would not otherwise have.
“I realized there were probably a lot of people in the same situation who could use a mentor and benefit from that person’s information and knowledge,” Harris said.
About 10 first- and second-year Westhampton or Richmond College students will be selected to participate in the pilot program, Harris said. He intends to choose students from various majors and career paths.
The official participants have not yet been chosen, Harris said, but he has narrowed the applicant pool for a round of interviews. These began during the week of March 25, he said.
Junior Patrick Love, who will succeed Harris as RCSGA president on April 3, wants to see growth in the number of program participants during his presidency, he said. A great benefit of this program is encouraging students to visit Career Services early during their time on campus, Love said.
Applicants must submit a cover letter and resume, which are materials that not all freshmen and sophomores have created yet, Love said. Career Services can also help interested students prepare for the interview portion of the application, he said.
The Alumni Association has tried similar programs in the past and has seen problems with meeting attendance, successful communication and relationships among current students and their mentors, Harris said. Harris hopes to avoid these issues by starting the program with a small group, he said.
Harris pitched the program idea to the Alumni Association and Career Services and both liked the program goals, he said. They would like to see a successful pilot program and reevaluate next winter before pledging their full support, Harris said.
Next December, students who participated in the pilot program will be asked to evaluate the relationship with their mentor and the value of the program, Harris said. With support from the university, a successful pilot program and interested students, this program will be able to expand in coming years, he said.
Because of the number of applications received for the pilot program, Harris and Love both said they believed student interest was clear.
“Richmond kids want and need this,” Harris said, “and we have the right kids here for it.”
Through campaigns such as the 100 for 1 Challenge, which helps fund summer fellowships, the university has responded to students’ wants and needs, Harris said. He said he hoped the university would also respond to the student need for an alumni-mentoring program.
Senior Peter Magnone, an international business and finance major, said he thought an alumni-mentoring program would help Richmond students to better understand their career goals and what classes they can take at Richmond to prepare them for their futures.
Harris believes that this program will benefit students who have undecided career goals, as well as those who need exposure and information about the career they think they are considering, he said.
Harris will be working in Richmond after he graduates and hopes to continue developing the alumni mentoring program in coming years, he said.
Contact staff writer Megan Haggerty at email@example.com