Julie Capozzi, left, and Dennis Baer, right, helped plan and will participate as mentors in the new college-wide mentorship program for the College of Arts and Sciences. Credit: Emily Derikito | Lantern Reporter

The College of Arts and Sciences Center for Career and Professional Success will kick off its new ASC Match 50 Mentorship Program on Thursday.

According to Randy Dineen, the assistant director for industry connections with the Arts and Sciences Center for Career and Professional Success, the program will be ASC’s first collegewide mentorship program and will pair 58 undergraduate students with alumni from the College of Arts and Sciences for a long-term mentorship.

“It’s something that the alumni of our college have been asking about for quite a few years and we’ve just never had the staff capacity to oversee a full-blown mentorship program,” Dineen said.

The expansion of the center as well as partnerships with the Office of Advancement and the college Alumni Society board made this the perfect time to introduce a full-scale mentorship program, Dineen said.

Two of the alumni participating in the mentorship program are Dennis Baer and Julie Capozzi. Both have experience as mentors and helped to plan this new program.

“I think it’s important that you have a mentor in life,” Capozzi said. “I think if you look at the individuals that are in powerful positions today, I guarantee they had one, two, three, 10 mentors along the way.”

Students could choose up to 3 of 10 career communities that they would be interested in and were then matched to alumni based on those communities without being restricted to matching a specific major.

“We have designed this mentorship program in such a way that even if you and your mentor are not 100 percent aligned, the program will still be very beneficial because it’s not necessarily all career-driven,” Dineen said. “It’s formed around overall career development.”

Capozzi also said that if mentors and mentees are not a good match, Dineen or Baer can help them find a better fit.

“But that hasn’t been a problem as of yet,” Capozzi said. “If you spend time listening and also offering of yourself, you’re going to find that there’s common ground.”

Mentors help their mentees improve skills in workplace professionalism, interviewing and job-searching, while also teaching the value of an Arts and Science degree, Dineen said.

“Obviously we can’t promise them jobs,” Capozzi said. “But what we can offer is what we’ve lived through from the time we came to Ohio State, to the time that we graduated and then thereafter.”

Students also expressed a lot of interest in the program when applications went out last spring.

“When we had the applications open back in March, we thought that it would take a while for students to apply,” Dineen said. “We had over 100 students apply in 10 days.”

Dineen said the Center for Career and Professional Success wanted this Thursday’s kickoff event to be a celebration of the program. It will include a networking opportunity, a dinner and a few guest speakers, including the executive dean and vice provost of the college, Janet M. Box-Steffensmeier. Students and alumni will then be separated into different rooms to talk more about what can be expected from the program and answer any questions.

During the event, mentees also will meet with their mentors to discuss and sign a mentorship partnership agreement. This agreement will allow the pair to determine how often they expect to communicate with each other.

“It’s not an ironclad legal document, but it’s a good activity just for them to get on the same page very early in the process,” Dineen said.

The program requires mentors to meet face-to-face with their mentee at least twice during the academic year. It’s also highly encouraged that they communicate at least once a month whether it be over the phone, through Skype or email.

However, the pair will create more personalized requirements when they discuss their mentorship partnership agreement.

“We want each relationship to grow really organically so we want to take a hands-off approach while still ensuring quality, but we know that every pairing will be different,” Dineen said.

The agreement states that the mentorship will last for one academic year. Capozzi, however, said in her experience, the relationships developed through mentorship often last far longer.

“This is only for a year but unless you really don’t want me, you’ve got a lifelong friend,” Baer added.

Dineen said they turned to the Alumni Society board to determine what they were looking for in a mentee and came to the conclusion they didn’t want a first-year student as a mentee because they might be overwhelmed during their transition into college.

“[Mentors] preferred not necessarily to have a senior as a mentee because they wanted this mentorship program to be more of a collaborative career exploration partnership whereas a lot of seniors are very focused on their job search,” Dineen said. “Most of them know already what they want to do for a career, so we landed on the middle.”

Dineen said applications for the program will go out in spring for the following school year and will target first- and second-year students so they can be involved during their second or third year.