Students/alumni connect 

By Barbara Black

There are over 100 active mentors among Concordia alumni. Busy though they are in their careers, they are making themselves available online to students at a crucial time in their young lives.

Rose Wangechi, Alumni Officer (Student Programs), told the Journal, “The mentor program had been in existence for years, but with very little supervision or improvement, it had lost some of its purpose.”

Organizers have given the program new life by adopting some of the best features and practices used at other universities. Because it is online, alumni in other cities in Canada and in other countries have access to it. Those alumni may be in search of mentors themselves; the program links alumni with other alumni as well as with students.

Magnifying glass

Mentors are advised to be open-minded and provide honest feedback, and mentees are told that they should not solicit employment from their mentor unless the mentor suggests it.

The relationship can be long or fleeting. Some students just want to ask one or two questions. Not surprisingly, the most-asked question is, “What is required for me to get the job I want?”

Mezier Briefkani is in the second year of his BComm (major in accounting, minor in finance), and he wants to get into portfolio management. He just started using the program, and is enthusiastic.

“I was able to get in contact with a VP at a large investment firm who really gave me solid advice on what I'm currently doing, what I could be doing, and what to expect,” Briefkani said.

“He was a big help. We met up for lunch and further discussed my options and his own experiences in the investment industry. It turned out he had done a lot of the things I'm doing now. It is a great program and I will keep using it.”

Sportscaster Paul Graif has mentored six students so far, and says he wishes he’d had one himself 15 years ago, when he studied political science at Concordia. When he is contacted by a student through the program, he invites them to the Global studios to see television behind the scenes, and to meet some of his colleagues.

“Students sometimes think they’re going to be a national correspondent right away,” he said. “I tell them they might have to work for free for a while, but not to worry. You never know, one of them might be my boss 15 years from now!”
Program organizers hope to have 200 mentees matched with mentors by the end of the academic year.

“Although one mentor can guide more than one mentee at a time, I would like to see the number of mentors double in the next couple of months,” Wangechi said.

“We especially need mentors in the film industry, athletic therapy and law. It’s a great opportunity for alumni to give back to their alma mater by helping students find their way in the workforce.”

Potential users should go to the program website at for more information about the program.


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