MentorNet - A Not-To-Be-Missed Opportunity
During the beginning-of-semester chaos of dorm move-in, book buying and classroom-finding, the development of contacts in the “real world” outside campus may be the furthest thing from a student’s mind. But students should not ignore the need for mentorship, no matter what stage they are in their academic careers.
At Penn Engineering, students are mentored by faculty, staff, alumni and fellow students from Day 1. But students hungry for mentorship opportunities outside the campus bubble need look no further than their computers.
MentorNet (www.mentornet.net) is a unique online mentoring service that is provided free to Penn Engineering students. Students can choose from several categories of mentors, be it a particular field, job or subject, and students can even specify that they would like an Alum as a mentor. There are several Penn Alumni who have joined the service and are available to serve as mentors to our students.
According to Susan Margulies, professor of Bioengineering and faculty advisor for MentorNet, the service is an incredible opportunity because it allows students to develop contacts with individuals already out in industry. "Mentors offer ongoing support and encouragement, and a real world perspective," says Margulies. "They provide advice on important issues like work-life balance and time management, and give students valuable information about career options, including how to find positions in industry."
It is different to be mentored, for example, by someone in industry than it is to be mentored by a faculty advisor. Both forms are extremely important and the opportunity to have both is now built in at Penn Engineering. "As students planning for our future, it's important to get perspectives from professionals whose careers we would consider," says Julie Williams, a senior in Materials Science and Engineering and past president of the Society of Women Engineers. "My mentor didn't directly answer my questions about the right choices for my academic career, but pushed me to analyze my goals and preferences to identify what kinds of paths I could take to get the future I wanted."
All students, undergraduate and graduate, are encouraged to join. Alumni are also encouraged to sign up as mentors. Mentors give advice, answer questions, or simply help a student start networking for when that all-important time comes to search for a first job.
To join, visit www.mentornet.net and click “Join” to submit information and set up an account. In an average of 15-20 minutes per week online our students can create contacts in business and industry and gain the confidence that comes with adding to their support networks.