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“The professional fields at Harbert most in need of mentors include finance, marketing, supply chain, accounting, business analytics, business-related education, and general business/industry leadership," Bryant said. "And from the diversity standpoint, more women are needed as mentors, especially women in technology.”
Meagon Bryant is excited about what’s new with the Harbert Connects mentorship program this fall.
What’s new is, a record number of incoming freshmen at Auburn University’s Harbert College of Business quickly approaching the 1,000 count, and an increase of almost three times the number of mentors signed up since late 2019. But what still is needed: more mentors!
Harbert Connects is a dynamic, option-filled mentorship program that allows business professionals – including alumni, faculty, staff and non-alumni friends of Auburn – to bond with students in one-on-one relationships much more personal than the more business-like internship requirements most business students face.
It is an all-volunteer program that leans heavily on fostering the Auburn Family spirit within the Harbert business community, and it is rapidly on the grow.
Since December 2019, the numbers have tripled, both on the student side and the mentor side,” said Bryant, the program’s administrator. “In an internship, it is a more hands-on work experience, but with the mentorship, you’re basically talking more and it’s much more personal.
Most of the connections between mentor and mentee are made at the beginning of a semester, another reason Bryant would love to see more mentors volunteer now. They have options to choose from on the Harbert Connects website that range from a multi-hour, longer range of time and personal investment, to mentorships that are much more limited in scope and could include simply occasional meetings or conversations, for example.
The idea is: Make the personal connection, talk, and then run with it as best suits both parties.
“I am so excited for the fall semester. We have the students, and they are ready to engage,” Bryant said. “But we don’t have mentors to accommodate them all.
“The students are hungry for insights,” she said. “The more mentors we can get, the better the platforms.”
Harbert sophomore Andrew Dale joined the program seeking a mentor who would allow him to gain insight into a business profession from the ground up, including participation in mock interviews. He credits the program and his Auburn-alumna mentor for teaching him interview techniques and how to better visualize the path to get where he wants to go.
“I’m pursuing investment banking, so I wanted to become part of the mentorship program in order learn from someone who is in the profession and who could help me better understand how he got into the firm he’s in today,” Dale said.
The Covid-19 pandemic created challenges, but it did not stop Dale and his mentor from another state in their meaningful conversations through video chats. Dale also praised the program for going beyond ordinary networking channels such as LinkedIn or other online platforms in allowing him to meet a mentor and various professionals in investment banking early in his collegiate experience.
“Harbert Connects allows the opportunity for that connection to actually happen,” Dale said. “I want to thank the professionals who take time out of their workday to help us students out.”
Auburn alumni connections run deep with the Harbert Connects program, and among the mentors recently spotlighted by the college:
Elizabeth is a licensed CPA with two years of public accounting experience and is currently a Finance Specialist in Southeast Engagement Operations for Protiviti. In 2017, Elizabeth graduated summa cum laude from Auburn, followed by earning her Master of Accountancy in 2019. She says she loves working with accounting students and helping them develop a career path in business. She has critiqued more than 1,500 resumes and has seven years of interview-coaching and mentorship experience.
Natalie attended Auburn for her undergraduate degree, double-majoring in accounting and finance with a minor in Spanish. She then earned her master's degree in accounting from Sam Houston State University. She has extensive experience in state and federal income tax compliance for corporations. She works today for IMG, helping clients with financial planning, investment management and insurance solutions.
Scott is an experienced IT leader with a degree from Auburn in information systems management. Over the course of his 15-year career, Scott has held a wide range of IT positions. He began working in the defense industry for the Space and Missile Defense Command and Army Material Command. From there, he moved into corporate technology roles with Parsons Corporation, where he led its global IT operations. Most recently, Scott has taken on the role as director of information technology at the Hudson Alpha Institute of Biotechnology.
Meredith is a 2012 graduate of Harbert, with a degree in supply chain management. She has worked for Maersk Group since her graduation from Auburn. She has taken rotations in finance, sales, customer service and strategic planning/consulting, but says she’s found her home in the transformation space. She has been stationed on four continents and in 15 cities. Meredith now heads the Continuous Improvement Department, which includes learning and development, project management, data and business intelligence, LEAN solutions, and subject matter experts.
The hand-matched, mentor-mentee relationship is fostered by the program coordinator. The mentee will spend one semester receiving professional and career development through a mentor relationship with a leading professional.
This option takes a more informal, non-binding approach to the mentoring relationship. The mentor decides how often the mentee can make contact to seek advice, ask questions, and build the mentor-mentee network.