The College’s Mentoring Program celebrates a milestone anniversary, continuing its mission to connect enthusiastic students with experienced former leaders.
By Guy Fiorita
“We would meet over a cup of coffee at The Brew or a meal at Sobelman’s. It was just once a month for about an hour, but barely six months into my career, I know I’m on the right track largely because of these meetings.
Riley Pollard, Bus Ad ’21, District Manager at Aldi USA, talks about her experience with the Mentor program, which celebrates its 35th anniversary this year. Co-sponsored by the Marquette Business Alumni Association and the Business Career Center, the program was set up to connect sophomore business students with Marquette alumni who are business leaders in the Milwaukee and Chicago.
Mentors meet with their protected students once a month to share career insights, offer advice, and answer questions about everything from writing a resume to finding an internship to preparing for interviews. and possible career paths to follow.
Pollard’s mentor is Dan Hutchins, Bus Ad ’77 (pictured above). He has mentored 20 students since joining the program in 2006 and brings with him 42 years of asset-based finance experience. “The main concepts I try to convey are that when it comes to looking for a job or an internship, hard work and preparation really counts, that forming and maintaining a network is invaluable and that there’s no easy way to make a search successful.. And if you’re expecting networking help from others, provide it whenever you can,” Hutchins says.
For students, the benefits are obvious. “It gives you an unbiased connection. Not like your parents or a colleague, but someone who could give you advice and help you make difficult decisions. Believe me, you face a lot of decisions and need a lot of guidance in college, especially in the last two years,” Pollard says.
“For me it was, and still is, having an experienced person by my side who has no interest in the matter in addition to helping me prepare to do my best, presenting obstacles, guide my thinking through solutions and where an internship or career position might lead,” adds Tatiana (Bashell) Graver, Bus Ad ’08, Associate Executive Director of the Wisconsin Health and Educational Facilities Authority, one of the first mentees from Hutchins.
With an average of 100 students per year, the mentorship program has matched thousands of students with hundreds of mentors. “We always have a very strong participation of volunteer mentors. Currently we have 156, which is more mentors than students wanting to be matched,” says John Knapp, former Director of External Relations (now Executive Director of Innovation Alley).
Recent mentors are some of the most influential people in the business world, including seasoned tax advisors, CFOs, CMOs, presidents, and CEOs. The list of companies they work for is equally impressive: Rockwell Automation, the Green Bay Packers, the Milwaukee Bucks, ManpowerGroup, Northwestern Mutual, Robert W. Baird, Amazon and Johnson Controls, among others.
Often the mentor-mentee relationship lasts long after graduation and evolves into something much more personal. Another of Hutchins’ students, Anthony Fabris, Bus Ad ’13, a wealth management planning analyst at Myklebust, Horne & Fies Financial Group, says that 10 years after they first met, his relationship with Hutchins has grown into a true friendship. . “My parents are always my first call, but when I need an independent sound with a unique perspective and someone I trust, I call Dan. We still talk three or four times a year, he came to our house and met my wife and our son.
Hutchins says the best part of the mentorship program for him is its potential to create lasting relationships. “I enjoyed my relationship with them as an adult even more than as a student. I’ve seen them get married, have kids, and struggle to start a business or advance their careers. I had two students the first year, and I’m still in touch with both of them. Accompanying a student later in their job and career changes is very rewarding.
“I got his family’s Christmas card this year,” Pollard says of Hutchins. “I sent him my graduation announcement, and I’m sure he’ll be at my wedding one day.”