Penn Engineering Mentoring Program
For more than a decade, the Penn Engineering Mentoring Program has been pairing students and alumni from the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) in an effort to support career-related networking and learning. A joint effort by Career Services and the Engineering Alumni Society, the Program has helped hundreds of undergraduates foster and grow their professional networks within a supportive and encouraging environment.
The Penn Engineering Mentoring Program, founded in 2002, is an annual endeavor that begins by pairing first-year engineering students in a one-on-one mentoring relationship with a volunteer SEAS Alumni Mentor of the student’s choosing. Once a Mentor is selected, the Mentor-Mentee pair is “introduced” through an email from Career Services, and students are provided support and encouragement throughout the year to assist them in having impactful, career-oriented interactions with their Mentors. Each individual Mentor-Mentee pair has the opportunity to build their unique relationship through planned conversations, and many pairs engage in face-to-face meetings, job shadowing, organizational tours and other career-related activities.
The Penn Engineering Mentoring Program is open to first-year undergraduate students enrolled in the School of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Pennsylvania. SEAS freshmen are invited in late November to attend an information session, offered several times through the late fall and early spring of their first year, so that they may submit a Mentor Request.
Once a SEAS student has attended an information session, in early spring he/she will be provided access to an online, searchable database of volunteer SEAS Alumni Mentors as well as a unique link to prepare a “Mentor Request.” Interested students are asked to provide up to three possible Mentor matches as well as write a short essay explaining their reason for participating and anticipated outcomes of the Mentoring relationship.
Each student’s Mentor Request is submitted through a secure online system, and is time and date stamped. Once the application period has closed, the program administrator begins the Matching process. Matches are made on a first-come, first-served basis. Once all interested students have been matched with Alumni Mentors of their choosing, they are invited to meet individually with an advisor in Career Services, receive contact information for their Mentors, accept the match formally and begin making contact with their Mentor!
The Program Year
Each Alumni Mentor-Student Mentee pairing, and the connection that unfolds across the program year, is unique. Once each student receives his/her Mentor profile, the student is encouraged to make the first contact, which traditionally happens in mid-spring term; each Mentor-Mentee pair themselves then decide the most appropriate ways to move forward in the relationship. Throughout the year and up until late fall of the student’s second year, participants are encouraged to maintain their connection by the Career Services program administrator. In late November, at the end of the formal Program, Mentors and their students are invited to complete final evaluations of their experiences. Many Mentors and their students mutually agree to stay in touch beyond this first year.
Thoughts from our Alumni Mentors:
“This was so incredibly rewarding to me — to help educate others on the things I’ve learned during and after college is personally very fulfilling. It was great to hear the enthusiasm in her voice as well as her desire to seek out my advice. Can’t recommend this enough.”
~ Andrew A., EAS ’09, GEN ’10
“I would highly recommend [the program] as it gives mentors the chance to share their Penn experience and effectively guide students into the professional world.”
~ Khizer H., EAS/CAS ’11, GEN ’12
“I was incredibly impressed by [my Mentee] throughout this process. We would email about once per month and also talk on the phone about once per month. She had insightful questions during all of our interactions and it was obvious that she was committed to developing a mentoring relationship and put in the time and energy necessary for our discussions to be productive and engaging. I truly enjoyed having the opportunity to interact with her throughout the year and would like to continue interacting with her for as long as she finds it helpful.”
~ Pamela R., EAS ’07
From Past Student Participants:
“My mentor’s career and past experiences include everything that I personally want to work on or experience in my own career. He is in the same field that I want to be in, and has given amazing advice on how to approach school and my career goals. I would recommend this program to students if they are willing to put in the effort to build a strong mentor-mentee relationship. Talking every once in a while is great, but the real strength of the program is meeting someone who really wants to help and teach you, and keeping up with them on a regular basis.”
~ V.S., Class of 2018
“This program is really what you make of it – I gained an amazing contact through this program and hope to keep in contact with her as time goes on.”
~ J.A., Class of 2018
“I would recommend it to freshman who are especially unsure about what they want to do.”
~ L.G., Class of 2018
“The opportunity to ask for advice from someone who has experienced not only what you are now, but what you may be doing 5, 15 or 25 years from now is great!”
~ C.L., Class of 2018
“[This program] has given me more confidence to define and refine my career goals. I was unsure about going into business after engineering because I had never talked to anyone who had done so before. I wasn’t even entirely sure if that was what I wanted to do. [My Mentor’s] explanations of his experiences really helped me grasp that it was possible and generally what it would be like. That overall really helped me feel more confident going forward.”
~ L.N., Class of 2017
“I think my mentor and I matched each other well. We both had overlapping interests academically and outside of school. I was able to relate very well to her and her stories, and I felt that she could understand any concerns or stresses I had about college and life.”
~ J.F., Class of 2017
“Whenever I had any questions or needed help with making decisions based on my curriculum, I would ask my mentor and always got a thoughtful response.”
~ A.V., Class of 2017
“I could not have asked for a better experience or mentor. We were paired very well and I have gained information and advice that I would not have gotten otherwise.”
~ E.C., Class of 2017
Please also feel free to review participant blogs about the program!
While having a Mentor is an invaluable opportunity for our students, as described above it can also be an excellent experience for Alumni. The relationship allows Alumni to remain engaged with Penn and the School of Engineering and Applied Science as well as have the opportunity to share their unique workplace and professional experience as an immeasurable learning benefit to Mentees. For a helpful article from IEEE-USA Today’s Engineer Online on the benefits of STEM Mentoring, please click here.
- New Mentors are invited to register year-round for inclusion in the upcoming year’s program by filling out a profile here!
- Existing Mentors will be contacted by email each November to determine if they wish to participate in the upcoming year.