Feature Friday: Mentorship

by Kelsey Knutson10. May 2013 11:44

Former Football Coach, Jim Walden, once said, “I can’t define it, I can’t tell somebody who isn’t a cougar what it’s like.  There’s something that happens at Washington State; you quietly and subtly become infected… Washington State is a passion.  Being a cougar is a passion.” Though this was said many years ago, it remains true today. From athletic sportsmanship to academic mentorship, cougars are infected with compassion for their school and each other.

WSU’s Beta Alpha Psi (an organization for financial information students) has capitalized on this bond Cougs identify with by initiating a mentorship program. The program began this year because Devin Ossman, vice president, saw a need and matched it with an opportunity. 

The mentorship program pairs accounting students with student and professional mentors to help with recruiting and interviewing.  Elizabeth Steere, President of Beta Alpha Psi, teamed up with Devin to create this program.  They both identified the gap between completing an education and getting plugged-in to the workforce.  So, they joined forces and created a test program that just so happened to work really well.

What can we learn from the mentorship program?

  1. Market Research: Devin reflected on his own experiences and then asked these questions: Who will benefit from this service? How will they benefit? Is the benefit great enough for them to pay for it (in this case, with their time)?
  2. Leadership Cultivation:  Devin is leaving this program in the hands of motivated leaders he has mentored.  This includes preparing supportive faculty and student leaders but also creatinga leader dedicated to the growth of this program. 
  3. Planning and Execution:  Devin first thought of this idea in a class that required a business/writing project.  This allowed him to really think about the needs of the “customer” (in this case students) and develop a business strategy.  He then found the right people and set goals with deadlines.  By achieving these goals, students were able to experience professional development, young professionals served their alma mater, and businesses now have more qualified applicants.

So, what is the lesson here?  Start with what you know, learn what you do not, find the right people, and execute your strategy.  Regardless of your job, we can all become better leaders by applying this philosophy. 

Thank you to the accounting mentorship program for starting something we can all learn from and best of luck in the future.

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