By Hazel Baker
The University’s online mentoring program, in which alumni make themselves available as mentors to students through AlumniOnline, was opened up to the entire student community earlier this year.
One of the earliest pairings was Markus Fischer (pictured here), a 25-year-old student from Germany who is undertaking the two-year Master of Management (CEMS) course through the Faculty of Economics and Business; and Roger Bayliss (BSc ’65), a Sydney-based former Australian trade commissioner of more than 30 years’ standing, now running his own consultancy.
Here in their own words is their AlumniOnline mentoring experience.
Markus: Once I was in AlumniOnline [students need to be authenticated before their account in AlumniOnline is created), I went into the mentoring community database to search for a mentor. I looked through the different profiles, and when I read Roger’s profile it matched what I wanted. [In his profile Roger said that his motivation to be a mentor was to provide practical advice to students on career progression and matching of skills to employment opportunities, as well as working internationally and within industry sectors.]
I sent Roger a note and an email, and in his response the next day he invited me to meet him. I wanted to find out more about consulting and HR and Roger gave me valuable insights about these roles. He told me what’s possible and most importantly how to get there. It was very valuable and he broadened my horizons.
We have communicated mostly by email, met twice and also talked on the phone. Roger has also introduced me to valuable contacts in Sydney and Singapore, where I am doing part of my course.
It’s really incredible. It’s not just about finding a career; it’s also a friendship. I am sure we are going to be in contact in five or 10 years’ time. It’s great that Sydney offers this kind of opportunity.
Roger: The process [of becoming a mentor] was all very easy. Once you are in, the website is pretty straightforward.
In terms of contact with students, I was particularly pleased to have a call from someone who was serious about the process and had studied the CVs and backgrounds of potential mentors. Markus is a serious and focussed guy and knew what sort of advice he was looking for.
I did find the mentoring guides on the website very helpful even though I’ve been in HR situations before and have had some experience of mentoring. I adopted my usual practice of asking a lot of open-ended questions and then narrowing that down to choices, such as between government and corporate.
I could also tell Markus what a working day in a particular field is like, in other words a reality check, which made him say, “I don’t think I want to do that!”
What have I got out of it? It keeps me in touch with the aspirations and characteristics of this generation and what makes them happy. I have also made a friend, I hope. It’s a work-in-progress, which in itself is very rewarding. And I’ll get my real buzz when I see Markus further down the career path.
Alumni as well as students are welcome to become a mentee and find a mentor. Simply make sure you have activated your account in AlumniOnline then login, go to the Mentoring Community and follow the prompts. We always need more alumni to become mentors, so do please volunteer.