The New College Center for Engagement and Opportunity (CEO) has recently created a one-on-one mentoring program that facilitates interaction between current students and recent alumni. The program is called the NovoNetwork. The goal of the program is to allow alumni to get involved with New College, as well as create more opportunities for current NCF students to get advice from former students when planning for the future.
Last year, as part of the performance improvement plan, one of the criteria was to start a mentorship program. The program was launched at the end of fall break this year. Erik Wilkinson, who was hired as the coordinator for programming and career exploration, spearheaded the program. In the first week, nine students requested mentors. Wilkinson reported there were 25 mentors in the system and about 30 other alumni who have submitted applications to the NovoNetwork.
The alumni involved in the program come from all around the country, as well as the world. They all graduated from New College. There are multiple age groups, careers and interests represented.
“There is a fair amount [of mentors from different disciplines],” Wilkinson said. “Regardless of a student’s AOC, there should be someone that they are interested in, but more than AOC, it is the careers mentors have.”
Wilkinson explained that mentors include lawyers, researchers, professors and business people.
“The biggest requirement is that the mentor and the student put in the time and talk regularly,” Wilkinson said. “There is a lot of flexibility in how that can be done.”
The minimum is that for one semester, the mentor and mentee meet on a regular basis. If a mentor is not in the Sarasota area, then Skype, phone and email discussions would be expected.
“If both parties feel like it is a good relationship they want to continue with, that is awesome,” Wilkinson said. “We can continue moving forward, but if at the end of the semester they want to say they have gone as far as we can, they can end the formal mentorship.”
A student can also request that they be given another mentor, if they so wish.
“If you want a mentor and you do not see somebody you can work with, you can request one and the CEO will help you,” Wilkinson said. Mentors can help current students with internships, employment and post-graduation.
The program is meant to cater to students’ needs, as well as open the community up to alumni. Wilkinson said that the alumni are very excited to share their knowledge and experience with current New College students.
“We have had some first-years request mentors, we have had fourth-years request mentors, it is anybody that feels like they could use a little bit of extra guidance, whether it is picking out an area of concentration or figuring out what to do after graduation,” Wilkinson said. “The purpose of the mentorship is to help students out wherever they are at on their journey.”