Mentoring College Students

I feel pretty dumb for posting this, but I would like some insight. This weekend I volunteered to mentor some undergraduate students with career assistance. I got my schedule today. I have 8 appointments which include 5 finance majors and 1 each from accounting/real estate/international business. Each appointment will be 20-30 minutes. I am simply wondering what meaningful advice I can provide. The reason I say this is I have personally struggled with my career in this environment and I accepted a temp job since nothing else was coming around. So, how would some of you advise undergraduate students who are approaching graduation? My thoughts to those interested in finance are to suggest constant networking and signing up for Level 1 of the CFA Exam. However, I do not have much else to suggest off the top of my head. The location of this school is near the Twin Cities.

Ummmm… You are giving career advice to college students and you don’t have a career?

if they are gonna stay in the area I would have a list of firms that you know of. Gives them an idea of where to start or places to look. Also your fav job sites or networking type things to do. Lastly I would just talk to them about what they are interested in the field and try to steer them towards a career (ie-I like to research stock, how bout being a equity research assoc; I think commodity trading rules, heres a HF that does it, etc). I am sure they will have plenty of questions themselves.

I’m one of many mentors. I’m active in the alum association so I was asked to be a part of this panel. I’ve had a rough time lately like many other financial professionals. I did intern at a large bank in the area and then I moved to a $1 billion dollar asset manager. In October the bottom fell out and many were laid off from that asset manager. Now I’m a temp and accepted to the fall full time MBA program I applied to. To be honest I just don’t know what to advise. Job boards in this area are lean.

You could say the following that you know even though you dont have a full time job: 1) diference between college and professional life and how to adjust 2) business culture in US 3) CFA exams and credential 4) recommend some good books to read 5) tell them to subscribe to a financial paper like WSJ etc etc maybe one of them will be a young hot female looking for a sugar daddy. which you arent at the moment but still!

I think you should share with them exactly what you said in your posts here. Your past experience in job searching. What you learned from it, what you would have done differently if you could go back to your last year before graduation.

Think about your experience getting a job out of college and the types of questions you had or what you would have done differently to improve your chances of landing a job. They know nothing so anything you tell them will be helpful.

ditchdigger2CFA , I mentor undergrads and grad students of my university too, but in NYC. You can talk about: 1)Your personal experiences 2)How you searched for job when you were an undergrad 3)Transition to full time work 4)What you wish someone told you when you were graduating Relax. Only the first one will/might be hard. They will come to you with their questions, so answer them and build it from there. You’ll do great!

One thing I would suggest is really doing a lot of research and due diligence around what various positions within finance actually do, and where they think there’s skill and interests lie. I made the mistake of taking a job that was with a company I really wanted to work for, but I didn’t really know what I’d be doing on a day to day basis. This was partially my fault, partially the recruiter’s. I ended up having to jump ship after six months because I couldn’t stand the work, as it ended up being mostly accounting - so I left and luckily was able to find someone to hire me despite the obvious read flag into a position that was more of what I wanted (the company was a couple of steps down though). That said, 2.5 years later there are some positions I am interested in looking at post-MBA at the first company, but I don’t I would be considered given the fact that I left them once so quickly. So my advice would be to really do a lot of research - you don’t want to end up burning bridges like I may have.

Be honest with them (you don’t have to tell them about your current situation) about how the real world operates!

So how long have you been in a full time work force?

2.5 Years. I was constantly employed after graduation (2006) up until late Oct 08.

I don’t mean to be mean or anything, but based on personal experience, these kids generally want to talk to someone successful that they can look up to in their intended career fields. Unless they’re looking for cautionary tales like the Scared Straight program that discourages teens from going to prison. Of course in this environment people need a good kick in the ass so maybe cautionary tale is the best way to go for them.

You’d be surprised what kind of advice you can offer. Of course, everyone would like to have George Soros or Warren Buffet as a mentor, but there aren’t enough of them to go around. Many times I have wondered, “what possible advice could I really offer,” only to find that people at a different stage have a bunch of questions that I actually can help them with. Remember, you (hopefully) have learned from your mistakes, maybe they won’t have to make them in order to learn from you.

  1. Tell them to all sign up for the CFA exam and create names on AF in order by roman numerals (with the prefix as your name), so we can keep track of the little newbies and their adventures. ie. ditchdigger2CFA i ditchdigger2CFA ii ditchdigger2CFA iii ditchdigger2CFA iv

they don’t want mentoring - they want a free coffee and they want you to give/find them a job so be honest with them - tell them to ditch finance and go do some real good in the world - make things, build things, invent things, build a business, create jobs, etc, etc just a thought…

I’m quite active with my school’s alumni association, and also do undergraduate mentoring. At my school, we can specify what fields we want to advise students in, so I’m signed up for finance and consulting. During an initial call or meeting, I always indicate to the student that I’m happy to speak with them about anything that they’d like to learn about, whether it’s professional or academic. I also let them know that the scope of our meeting is informal, so they should feel comfortable speaking with me candidly about their experiences and concerns. The most common things that my mentees ask me are questions about interview preparation, career path, and general “day in the life” type of things. Students put a lot of value on getting the “real scoop” on what life in finance is really like, and I make sure to give them a balanced perspective on things so they know what they are getting themselves into. I have a pretty solid relationship with most of my mentees. Some of them just keep in touch with me up to the time that they get their job, and then they only check in every so often. For others, I get e-mails or calls from them about once a month where they just update me on how things are going. Mentoring has been a very rewarding experience for me, because a lot of people helped me when I was going through the job search and the least I can do is to give back to others. It’s also incredibly satisfying to hear how grateful the students are when they talk about the internship or the investment banking job they landed, and how I may have played a role (however small or large) in assisting them to accomplish their objectives.

i wish my uni offered mentoring.

Thanks everyone. I’m happy that I was invited to be a mentor, however, I was quite concerned regarding how suitable I was for that position.

I feel your pain