Director of alumni relations reflects on alumni mentorship program

by Ryan Magalhaes, Staff Reporter

As Simpson’s Alumni Mentorship Program (AMP) enters its sixth year, it carries a history of success and a potential for an even better future.

Andy English, the director of the alumni relations board, started the alumni mentorship program in 2016 after a conversation with Brianne Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald, who graduated from Simpson in 2002, wanted to work with current students.

“Brianne was interested in ways to interact with students,” English said. “Ways that would be positive and help them achieve their career goals.” 

English liked the idea and began searching for models, eventually finding a model from Stanford that he thought could be adapted for use at Simpson.

“I looked through their alumni mentoring workbook and pared that down to what I believed would work for Simpson,” he said. 

The program was received well by both students and alumni.

The program starts with students filling out an application that contains their chosen career path and interests. English then hand picks a mentor to match with each student.

At the kickoff dinner, the mentors and mentees meet each other. They craft a mentorship contract and set a one-year goal they will work together to achieve.

“We’re very deliberate about how we set the goals,” he said. “What opportunities are we going to expose and offer that student that will set them up to get that dream job?”

For the rest of the year, the partnership meets in whatever way works best for them. Some pairs choose to meet for coffee weekly, while others communicate over text with a monthly meeting to track progress.

“The alumni office doesn’t prescribe what each mentoring partnership looks like. Instead, we allow the mentor and mentee to agree on something together,” he said.

The goal of the program is for alumni to have a chance to develop teaching skills, as well as provide students with another resource for career development. The relationship, however, isn’t confined to the year that partnerships are official.

“Most of the relationships don’t end when the formal timeframe ends,” he said. “Most of our mentors and mentees will continue that relationship informally after the program.”

In the sixth year of operation, some students who were mentees are now becoming mentors. 

The program continues to provide students with guidance on how to advance their career, or choose a career path.

With a target of 75 pairings, English is looking forward to the next year of the program, including returning mentees.

AMP is currently accepting online applications through the end of September.

“I hope that students that have had a mentor request a new one,” he said. “It’s important to get different backgrounds and different viewpoints.” 

In the coming years, English wants Simpson to become a model that other colleges replicate for alumni mentorship programs.

“I’ve already sent our program to a couple of similar schools,” he said. “I’d love to become the go-to for other schools.”