PHOTO COURTESY/JONI MARIE O'HAGAN
Career Services at St. John’s University encourages alumni to become mentors through their program, C3: Creating Career Connections, which has been improved over the years. The mentorship program provides opportunities for students to get a jumpstart on their professional experience.
Joni O’Hagan, director of Career Development, said that the program has been around for almost 10 years.
“It’s not so much brand new,” O’Hagan said. “We actually started the shadowing program in 2008, almost 10 years ago.”
“It is now, C3: Creating Career Connections, and it includes not only shadowing, which is a one day match experience, but we also offer [a] three-day experience called career immersion and we offer a matched informational interviewing, so Skype or phone call with a mentor,” O’Hagan said. “That’s kind of why we rebranded it.”
The program includes three options for mentorship: career conversations, job shadowing and career immersion.
The career conversations option allows students to arrange an informational interview over phone calls or virtually over Skype. According to Career Services it can also be used as a first time informational meeting, especially for first year students.
The job shadowing option gives students an opportunity to see what a typical day is like for their mentor. The program mainly targets first and second-year students.
Career immersion, the last option listed, is a three-day shadowing experience targeting all undergraduate students, which usually occurs over winter, spring and summer breaks. According to Career Services, mentors present mentees with an opportunity to sit in on meetings, workplace activities and team discussions.
Students can learn about their mentor’s industry, receive workplace experience and network during the academic year. According to O’Hagan, Career Services makes sure to offer these experiences over breaks, opposed to during the semester.
“We would always [be] mindful that we weren’t running a potential day off campus to spend a day in the field when you would have to miss class,” O’Hagan said. “That’s why we did spring break and after finals.”
According to Career Services, as of this semester, the shadowing and immersion experiences will be available after finals and over winter and spring breaks. Next year the opportunity will be offered before classes start in September.
“It gives students and mentors [an] opportunity based on when it’s right for them,” O’Hagan said.
In April, Satiya Singh, a freshman legal studies major, was featured in the program’s student spotlight.
According to Career Services, Singh saw the opportunity to make connections in her field with host Ritha Pierre, an attorney for SEIU Local 32 BJ.
“Ritha went out of her way to make me feel comfortable,” Satiya said. “She was able to offer me a plethora of advice in terms of taking the LSAT, applying to law school and the things I need to do to stand out as an undergraduate student.”
According to O’Hagan the program has had up to 40-50 student matches in any given week. Students like Satiya have been exposed to industries that also include the New York City Council, NBC and CBS.
Kezia Harris, a five-year student with a bachelor’s in accounting and getting her master’s in taxation has not heard of the program, but became familiar with Career Services during her undergraduate experience, which ended earlier this year.
“I definitely think this program would be helpful to undergrad students,” Harris said. “Especially in the business world, firms are recruiting students younger and younger. I got my first internship after my sophomore year and I recently talked to someone who was brought on after her freshmen year.”
Harris shared that at such a young age there were a lot of things she hadn’t learned yet, like resume formatting, interviewing skills and the proper way to turn down an offer.
“These things matter because they create the building blocks for your professional brand,” Harris said. “Having a relationship with someone who has had similar experiences and can offer guidance and advice can only be valuable to students.”
Alumni can also benefit from the program as their organization will not only receive exposure to St. John’s, but also its students for internship and job recruitment opportunities. Alumni will help students prepare for the job market after graduation, as well as continue to build a relationship with the University through mentorship.