Dec. 17, 2013—Assistant Director of the Suitts Graduate & Alumni Career Center Melena Postolowski smiles when proffering details about the latest expansion of Daniels Executive Mentor Program (EMP) at the University of Denver. This unique program matches graduate students with business executives along the front range—a beneficial relationship for each party. Postolowski is ushering the EMP into its tenth year—and is hoping to continually expand its reach.
Since the program's inception in 2004, more than 1,700 graduate business students have been paired with senior-level business executives in Colorado. The program provides opportunities for students to bolster their professional skills by interacting with high caliber mentors who volunteer their time to serve as coaches, teachers, facilitators and professional advocates for their mentees.
"To have executives volunteer their time to give back to students is a big deal," Postolowski said. "This relationship prepares our students for the workplace and the transition from graduate school to career. Multiple students have received job offers through the program, whether it be from their mentor or a connection that their mentor was able to make for them—while the program isn't designed for students to 'ask' for jobs, it can become an end result."
Unlike other graduate schools that primarily offer peer or advisor counseling, the Executive Mentor Program allows graduate students to peer behind the curtain of high-powered business leader's professional lives. By gaining access to these executives, students explore the nuances of various business sectors, and identify which niche best fits their interests and strengths.
"The program is highly autonomous, it really depends on the student's goals," said Postolowksi. "Mentor activities range from coffee and lunch dates, company tours and networking events, to interview practice and cover letter reviews."
Master of Finance student Evin Boyle was recently paired with Linda Adams, the co-founder of the Trispective Group. "The program has given me a perspective of other disciplines besides finance," said Boyle. "Linda has coached multiple executives and has excellent insight on how to be successful in any discipline. I know that if I need a recommendation or want to find out more about Denver companies, Linda will help me in any way that she can."
Through the executive mentor relationship, students learn more about their field of interest and the ins and outs what it takes to be successful managers and entrepreneurs. "Mentors engage in the program because they want to give back to the community," Postolowski said. "It's a perfect way to volunteer their industry expertise to students and help a younger generation progress more quickly."
Executive mentor Joe Colosimo, president of Colosimo & Associates appreciates the opportunity to support students in the Denver community. "Mentoring is a way of giving back and helping a younger generation get better faster," said Colosimo. "The greatest gift from a mentee is when I receive a call from them years later, after they've developed successful careers, and they say, 'you made a difference in my life.'"
Chief Financial Officer of the Denver Rescue Mission, Dave Schunk has participated as a mentor for several years and values the EMP's mutually beneficial outcomes. "This program is indeed unique and worthwhile," said Schunk. "It provides a safe environment for graduate students to apply the skills they learn in graduate school. I believe that mentoring is so important—not only to the student's development but also to the mentor. I value the relationships I have gained over the years."
This year, Postolowski is expanding the program to allow more opportunities for students to connect with their mentors. Over time, she hopes to have all Daniels graduate students participate in the EMP. "I'm the most proud of setting students up with a mentor who is going to help them in their career development, that's the main goal of our office," Postolowski said."Having someone with firsthand industry experience volunteering their time to help students is a benevolent idea."
If you're interested in participating as a mentor in Daniels EMP, please contact Ms. Postolowski at Melena.Postolowski@du.edu or call 303-871-4439. She is currently seeking additional executives to offer their professional expertise to select graduate business students.