CORRECTION: This story originally misspelled the last name of one of the mentors, Christy Bihm.

T
he University of Colorado's Leeds school of Business is celebrating the growth of its Professional Mentorship Program during January's National Mentoring Month.

Since 2010, when Katie Connor was hired as the school's Professional Mentorship program director, the program has grown from 134 participants to more than 1,100.

The school will hold a mentoring discussion event today and a presentation on The Role of Mentoring in Leadership Development on Jan. 30.

There are several mentoring programs across campus that offer support for various student groups, but the Leeds program is the largest one that pairs students with industry professionals who provide personal and career advice, Connor said.

Connor attributes the recent growth to support from the school and a $500,000 gift from program mentor and Leeds alumnus Gordon Trafton in 2011.

"It allowed us to integrate the mentoring programs, create a combined mentoring office, support continued growth of the programs, hire staff for the programs," Connor said, "and allowed us to purchase software to manage the data and matching requirements for that many people."

The Professional Mentorship Program caters to juniors and seniors looking for guidance during a transition into the workforce, Connor said. She also said the office has developed other programs that cater to freshmen and sophomores. The office also offers professional mentoring for Master of Business Administration (MBA) students.

More than 250 Leeds freshmen and 80 mentors are signed up for the Peer 2 Peer program, which connects first-year students with upperclassmen who provide advice about getting involved.

The program is currently expanding support to international students and sophomores through a program that will pair students with recent alumni who can provide tips for choosing a major and career path.

CU senior Anuja Tulpule said over the past year her mentor, Christy Bihm, has given her advice everywhere from writing professional emails to guidance on how to use her accounting degree. Tulpule said Bean even helped her get a post-graduation job with the financial firm Deloitte.

"I didn't know what my options with accounting were, but she helped guide me through her process," Tulpule said. "Some of the things I found interesting and helped me broaden my perspective. She's been a great motivator ... and hearing stories about her experiences has gotten me out of my bubble."

Tulpule said she speaks with her mentor about once a month by phone and email since Bihm does not live in state. The program has been a small time commitment with big impact, Tulpule said.

"Until you join, you don't know what you're missing out on," Tulpule said. "I didn't' really recognize what I was doing wrong, in terms of communicating with professionals and decisions that impact my careers and life, until I met her."

Gary Lutz, a CU graduate and Wells Fargo executive, said he's been mentoring Leeds students for about three years, in an effort to give back to the school he loves.

"I wanted to give students an additional perspective of the working world above and beyond what they learn in the classroom," Lutz said. "This is their opportunity to let their guard down a little, ask questions and have conversations that fall between what they talk to their parents and professors about."

While he volunteered for the program to provide support to students, Lutz said the program has also been a great experience for him as a mentor.

"I might have gotten more out of it then the students," Lutz said. "It's really been rewarding for all sides."

- Follow Whitney Bryen on Twitter: @SoonerReporter.

 

If you go

What: Tips from experienced Mentors and Mentees

When: Thursday, 1 p.m.-3 p.m.

Where: Kolbel, room 203

For more: leedsmentoring.colorado

.edu