Over the last year, your Alumni Association has launched a series of Life After King’s programs for the benefit of both students and alumni. The cornerstone of this initiative is the Life After King’s Mentorship Program, whereby students and young alumni can request mentorship from more experienced graduates. Unlike other mentorship programs, the Life After King’s model is very casual, allowing participants to customize the mentorship format to their own needs and availability. Meetings may take place in person, by phone, or electronically. The number of meetings and mentorship commencement and end-dates are flexible. Some mentees may have only a few straightforward questions that can be met in one or two meetings. Others may find value in keeping in touch over a long period of time. The flexibility and simplicity of the program have made it accessible to both mentors and mentees, allowing individuals to participate and share on their own terms.

The importance of mentorship in today’s competitive job market cannot be understated. For a new or soon-to-be graduate, learning the ins and outs of an industry may mean the difference between beginning a career prepared for what lies ahead, or spending a great deal of time trying to start, and often meeting stumbling blocks along the way.

Jen Denys ’00, life and career coach at Blue Core Consulting, sees mentorship as an important tool for those entering a new industry because of the real-world knowledge that mentors can offer. “Mentoring has its roots in the apprenticeship model. I believe it is extremely effective because it allows mentees to gain the knowledge they need, just when they need it.” Jen knows the value of mentorship for her clients because she has benefitted from the experience first-hand. “When I think of the kinds of questions I’ve asked my own mentors, they have been things like ‘how do I take minutes at an executive board meeting?’ or ‘what do you wear to a professional conference in another city?’ and ‘how do I handle a tough conversation at work?’ Typically, you’re not looking for an answer that can be found in a textbook; you want the real-world experience that comes from a person who has walked in your shoes.”

King’s student Jessica Sommers looks at mentorship as an opportunity to gain career insights that aren’t available in the classroom. “There are no real hands-on experiences available to help you figure out what you might enjoy or be good at in the future -- we learn about them in class and in our textbooks which sometimes is not an accurate representation of that particular job. I think too, it is intimidating for students to reach out to working professionals as I know I feel like I am bugging them with my maybe silly questions, or feel too forward asking if it would be ok to spend a day in a certain job of interest.” For Jessica, the mentorship program has eliminated the discomfort of asking questions about her academic and professional pursuits. “I know that the alumni are interested in mentoring, so it makes asking for their opinions and experience a lot less awkward. I think the intimidation factor is a huge hindrance to students looking to gain experience, but this program directly connects you to someone who wants to help you! It's the best feeling in the world to meet with your mentor, and get excited about what they are talking about and realizing, ‘Ok, this is what I want to do for the rest of my life!’” Jessica has been a great advocate for the program, having referred many fellow students.  “I would advise all students to look into this program if they are unsure about their interests and futures in hopes they can have that 'Aha!' moment too.”  

In addition to the mentorship program, Life After King’s has begun to offer industry and career-specific workshops, allowing current students to hear from King’s alumni who are working in their area of interest. The first Life After King’s workshop was hosted on October 15, 2014, for students interested in a law career. Western Law student Matt Bak ’10, and SMG Law managing partner, David MacKenzie ’83 were on hand to answer questions about everything from studying for the LSATs, to articling at a firm, to the typical day of a working lawyer. Future workshops may include those with a focus on teaching, academia, helping professions and others.

For more information about Life After King’s programs, or how to get involved, contact kcalumni@uwo.ca