Mentors Help Underserved Students Become Business Professionals – and You Can Help

Think back to when you were just starting out in your career. How did you learn about creating a business network to propel your career? What are the keywords in your resume that attracted recruiters for your first career job?

If you are like most college graduates, these questions were answered long after your college studies were completed and too late to be helpful in finding your first career position. While this gap in business skills is an inconvenience for many graduates, it can be a tremendous challenge for students in economically depressed locations where jobs are scarce.

In the United States, two-thirds of college graduates say they have struggled to start their career after college. In South Africa, 85% of graduates say they don’t feel their diploma has helped them find work. In fact, 33% of graduates up to age 25 remain unemployed. And yet, there are jobs available in the growing economies across Africa and the US that go unfilled while recruiters struggle to find qualified candidates. There are many entry-level positions available for these graduates, but the gap between their education and the business skills needed causes these jobs to be just out of reach.

Although students may learn technical skills, many students, especially in disadvantaged areas do not receive the business training necessary to succeed in a professional environment. Consequently, some college students will graduate without the basic knowledge of how to properly search for, obtain, and thrive in a professional job.

What’s missing from their education? Examples include:

  • Building a business network to find the right job
  • Job interview techniques to make the best impression
  • Developing communication skills for a corporate setting
  • How to excel in the global business environment
  • How to distinguish yourself in the workplace
Teacher in classroom with engaged students

The Importance of Soft Skill Training and Mentorship

There are many studies illustrating the value of having a mentor during college. However, a structured mentorship with a business professional is a rare opportunity in the US and almost unheard of in developing countries.

Global Mentorship Initiative (GMI) is a non-profit organization that connects college students around the world with professional role models to help them prepare for their first job.

“Having a college degree alone doesn’t necessarily make a student ready for their first professional job” says Jon Browning, CEO of Global Mentorship Initiative. “Our students who are mostly in high unemployment areas can leverage the experience of professionals who provide guidance, business skills, and even job opportunities when they graduate.”

A Different Approach to Mentorship

The GMI model is not a traditional mentorship but instead uses a comprehensive business training program focusing on vital business skills that help prepare students for the business world.

Most students who complete the course will graduate with a defined career path, a professional resume, a LinkedIn profile, an international business network with at least 100 professional contacts, professional references, and at least five job interviews arranged before they graduate.

Some mentors approach the program with apprehension because they doubt their ability to guide a student through the GMI curriculum. However, no prior experience in mentoring is required and after a three-hour training course, mentors come away with the tools and knowledge needed to guide their mentees. In fact, mentors often apply the GMI techniques they learn to boost their own careers.

Mentorship Can Lead to Job Opportunities

This initiative doesn’t just benefit the students. Companies who sponsor mentors see value because they are introduced to a group of pre-screened job candidates who have been trained in a comprehensive business preparation course and they are ready to work. With the cost of recruiting a new employee in the US between $4,000 – $10,000, even more for high-tech jobs, the GMI model can be a cost effective alternative. “We need more partnerships like the GMI approach”, says Tim Hopper, Responsible Sourcing Manager at Microsoft. “There is a large talent pool for high-tech jobs but finding the best candidates can be a challenge. The GMI model helps our industry leverage talent that otherwise might be overlooked, and this is good for everyone.”

You Can Make a Difference

Being a mentor is a great way to pay it forward and make a difference in a young adult’s future. GMI is accepting mentor applications, “we have hundreds of students in the US and internationally who are ready for a mentor”, says Browning. To learn more visit: https://globalmentorship.org or contact jon.browning@globalmentorship.org.