It’s a match! Students paired with alums for career exploration

In a record for the College’s Career Advancement Center, a total of 69 students and alumni mentors will meet several times next semester to explore students’ professional interests and goals. It’s an increase of about 20 percent over last year.

Thousands of Lake Forest alumni are successful in their jobs, and their wisdom and experience is in greater demand from students than ever before, according to career advancement professionals at Lake Forest College.

The increase in demand for mentors can be attributed at least in part to the downturn in the economy, according to Laura Matthews, Mentor Program Coordinator for the College. “Students know they need a leg up when looking for a job in this market, and having a mentor can help them get it.”

Mentor-student pairs are made based upon students’ stated goals and interests. They meet three or more times over the course of the semester to learn about their jobs and career paths. They also learn how to build a network. 

“Networking is more important than it’s ever been. The statistic we hear a lot is that 70 percent of jobs are never posted,” said Matthews. “It’s important for students to learn networking skills, and alumni can teach them. And they also can point them in the direction of someone who’s hiring an intern.”

Alumni mentors represent a huge variety of careers, including law, business, finance, marketing, public relations, medicine, and the biological and chemical sciences. While they come from all over the country, many mentors are based in the Chicago area, allowing for in-person as well as phone meetings with students.

“Alumni have leveraged their liberal arts education and translated it into a successful career, which is what we’re trying to get our students to do,” Matthews said. 

The Mentor Program is just one of several services offered through the College’s Career Advancement Center. They also give career advice, job search assistance, help with resumes and cover letters, and preparation for graduate school entrance exams. Other popular programs include speed networking, career chats, and dinner etiquette.