Mentoring: Where passion meets wisdom

Posted January 2023

In support of National Mentoring Month, we’re shining a spotlight on amazing Terrier mentoring stories. If you want to mentor a Terrier, volunteer on BU Connects!

When Tia Black (COM’23) received an email from COM Career Services about a new mentorship program launching in the Fall of 2022, she said it was a no-brainer. Tia, who recently completed COM’s MS in Television degree and is an aspiring network executive, is a natural networker, frequently making an effort to speak with class guest speakers and connecting with people on LinkedIn. Her goal going into the COM Mentors program was simple: find someone she could talk to about searching for jobs and living in Los Angeles. What she found was much more than that—a friend, confidante, and cheerleader.

Steve Longo’s diploma says he graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from COM in 2022, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. Steve’s history with BU actually began when he enrolled as a student in the 1980s. Through COM, he found his first paid internship, working for then-Governor (and future presidential candidate) Michael Dukakis. A series of professional leaps led Steve to leave BU and pursue his burgeoning career. After a couple of decades working in television, with credits including America’s Most Wanted, Extra, and several shows on The Oprah Winfrey Network, Steve returned to the world of education. His journey continued both professionally—working in Career Development for the Los Angeles Film School—and as a student—reenrolling in COM to complete his BU degree. Upon learning about the COM Mentors program, which would be facilitated through the BU Connects digital platform, Steve jumped at the opportunity. As someone whose own career was launched using connections he made through BU, Steve felt the professional boost he could provide might be just as impactful to a student’s career as their academic successes.

After being matched, Tia and Steve began their mentoring sessions by following the helpful guidelines established by COM Career Services. Very quickly, they each realized they could go beyond the written benchmarks. Tia emailed with questions and updates, and Steve reached out anytime he thought of helpful advice or had resources or contacts to share. Steve was struck by Tia’s passion and preparation, and Tia was comforted by Steve’s wisdom and assurances that all her efforts were moving her in the right direction. Because Tia spent the Fall semester interning in LA through the BU Study Abroad Los Angeles Program, they could even see each other in person—their first meeting was, appropriately, at the Student Academy Awards.

For Tia, it was invaluable having access to Steve’s breadth of practical experience and unbiased advice, and his mentorship provided a complementary layer of support to what she received from faculty and staff. Steve notes that these relationships are an investment. While he gets personal satisfaction from supporting Tia, he also recognizes how much her youthful insights and connections can help him, too—not to mention giving him a great opportunity to recommend a new talent to former colleagues and acquaintances. Steve tells potential alumni mentors of the personal rewards of mentoring but suggests that they wait until the time is right for them, so they can show up and give it their all.

While their formal mentoring relationship may have ended, Tia and Steve completed the program as close friends. Speaking to other students about her mentoring experience, Tia encourages them to find alumni mentors and professional connections on BU Connects because having access to talk to people who come from shared interests and backgrounds is incredibly valuable. And Steve, having experienced plenty of highs and lows throughout his career, is excited to continue advising Tia through her own successes and challenges in the job search and beyond. As Steve tells her, “Everything happens when it’s supposed to.”

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