Mentoring: Preparing for Future Success
|Originally published by BU Alumni|
When David Mannion (ENG ’91) received an email from the College of Engineering about a mentoring program launching on BU Connects, the time was right for him to volunteer. With two kids out of college and 30+ years of experience in his field, David says, “It’s an opportunity now for me to give back to BU and to help others.”
On the other end of the spectrum, Noah Robitshek (ENG ’25) was only in the second semester of his freshman year when he was matched with David. When they began communicating in Spring 2022, neither David nor Noah knew quite what to expect from a mentoring program, but it quickly became apparent that it would be beneficial to both of them. Having the opportunity, as Noah says, to discuss his academic and professional career with someone with decades of experience “really contextualizes your learning and helps you succeed in classes and in school in general.”
Meeting on Zoom about once a week, David typically comes to their mentoring sessions with planned discussion points and questions, but the conversations frequently weave through topics such as what classes Noah should register for, how to fine-tune his resume for an upcoming internship application, David’s professional perspectives on Noah’s course material, and more. Noah had been considering pursuing software engineering, but David helped open his eyes to the extensive opportunities within the greater computer engineering field. For David, these meetings are ultimately about preparing Noah to get a job after he graduates and “all the 10,000 steps he has to do between now and then to get there.”
While Noah gives kudos to the College of Engineering faculty and Career Development office, he says that having a mentor helps him view his BU experience and career more holistically. David has been in Noah’s shoes and knows not just about jobs in computer engineering but about the paths and perspectives that will help Noah succeed with any endeavors he pursues. “Professors are very good sources for information,” Noah says, “but there’s nothing like somebody who’s in the field.” For Noah, there’s something special about having a mentor like David whose career he can visualize emulating.
Two semesters into their mentoring experience, Noah and David seem more committed than ever. David encourages alumni to try mentoring for a semester, even if they worry they don’t have the time. “There’s so much flexibility,” David says, because mentors and mentees schedule meetings for mutually beneficial times, and pick the modes of communication that work best for them, whether that’s in-person meetings, Zoom chats, emails, or texts. The experience has been extremely rewarding for David, and it’s particularly satisfying being able to give back to BU. Upon hearing about his mentoring role, David’s company even invited him to harness his student mentoring experience to help create his department’s onboarding curriculum for college hires.
Being able to work so closely with a mentor like David has been an incredible experience for Noah. “It’s great to have someone to look up to,” he says, noting that the experience has broadened his perspective beyond the narrower frame of reference he had when he first came to BU. Noah recommends that any alumni who are looking for ways to give back to the BU community consider mentoring because the time that alumni put into mentorship, even just a few minutes, can have an exponential effect on students’ lives. In the words of this budding engineer, “the impact is astronomical.”