One of the key principles of this University is community. We have athletics, clubs, residence halls, Greek life and academics, which all come together to form a larger Villanova community.
It is easy to list all of the communities we see day in and day out on campus, but what is sometimes forgotten, or perhaps brushed aside until we are on the hunt for internships and jobs, is the network of Villanovans existing off-campus. The majority of us know alumni, but how many of us interact with them as much as we interact with our on-campus communities?
Last week, the Business School celebrated one of its off-campus communities and alumni networks: The VSB Mentor Program.
The main goal of the VSB Mentor Program is “bringing VSB students and alumni volunteers together in one-to-one relationships to support the student’s career and professional development goals,” as stated on the program’s online information page.
During the Mentor Celebration on Jan. 19, I spoke with Danielle Tantillo ‘18, a member on the Mentor Advisory Board. “Today our main goal is to spread the word about the program and to recruit sophomores to become a part of the program,” Tantillo said. “It really is a great experience.”
The professional side of the mentor program is apparent: the mentor shares tips and tricks with his or her mentee.
“Through the program we have a few different celebrations throughout the year,” Tantillo said. “It’s like a big mentoring opportunity, in a sense, where you get to talk to your fellow Villanovans and their mentors, and then other alumni who want to be part of the program.”
The VSB Mentor Program, however, goes beyond the facilitation of a professional relationship. The program creates a friendship between two Villanovans—one past and one present.
“It’s just another person, like a sounding board, that you can ask certain questions to and they can guide you,” Tantillo said. “I really enjoyed my time with the program, and I think that my mentor and I will have a great relationship after I graduate.”
Cultivating both professional and personal relationships is one of the hallmarks of a mentor program like this. The program works to change the common understanding that the University’s alumni exist only as a bridge to a potential job or career. The testimonials and unique experiences of the VSB students who are a part of the Mentor Program prove this stereotype wrong.
Though restricted to VSB students, as a business minor, I was granted the ability to apply to the program only last week. The concepts and principles of the program can be extrapolated by any student of any major: Make professional and personal relationships with off-campus communities of alumni and build friendships with them similar to how you would with individuals on-campus.