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New Alumni/Industry Mentor Program reports huge demand

The college needs more mentors. Student interest in the Alumni/Industry Mentor Program has been so strong that the demand for mentors is more than double the supply. As word of the program spreads, however, the rate at which engineering professionals join is expected to snowball, says Engineering Career Services assistant director Julie J. Rae, who manages the mentor program. Not long after the first mentor joined from Andersen Consulting, for example, five more followed. "I wish there had been something like this when I was student," says mentor and Andersen Consulting industrial engineer Lori Germundsen (BS '94). "Now I want to give something back. I want to help prepare students for the professional environment and show them what the day-to-day life of a consultant is like." In addition to such altruistic motivations, there are tangible rewards as well, Johns says. "It's a good way for employers to line up potential employees, and to really get to know them," she explains. "Being a mentor gives them the opportunity to develop good working relationships with students early on, rather than waiting until they are seniors."

Johns paired Germundsen with industrial engineering undergraduate Angela Waselchuk, who learned about the program through a presentation at the Society of Women Engineers. Johns is also working closely with the student chapter of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and the National Society of Black Engineers-Wisconsin Black Engineering Student Society.

Although the program doesn't have formal requirements for the amount of interaction between mentors and students, Johns recommends at least a monthly phone conversation and, if possible, periodic face-to-face meetings. "They can share ideas with students about what types of skills and technical knowledge are truly needed to become a successful engineer," she says. For information on the Alumni/Industry Mentor Program, which is co-sponsored by Engineering Career Services and the Diversity Affairs Office, contact Julie J. Rae at 608/265-5918 or