Mentorship is a way of life at Gustavson

Success success—like mentor, like mentee
Success success—like mentor, like mentee

The Gustavson Mentorship Program is one of the special features of our MBA or BCom degrees - a unique opportunity to gain the help and guidance of a local business leader - those who have been in your shoes! So if you are wondering what to do when you graduate, have lots of ideas but no focus, or have a goal but aren't sure of the steps to get there - then consider the benefits of having a Gustavson mentor.

The Mentorship Program gratefully acknowledges the generous financial support of Russ and Ellen Cmolik.

Why I wanted to be a mentor

At the start of my third year I decided that the mentorship program was an opportunity too valuable to pass up…and I was right. After hearing about the mentorship program during Link Week, I decided it was something worth trying to see what happens. I didn’t have a lot of connections in the finance industry and I thought that this would be a great way of gaining industry relevant knowledge directly. I wanted to talk to a professional and gain insight and perspective. I consider myself fortunate because the mentor I was paired with is phenomenal.

We meet at Starbucks and keep things pretty casual. Discussions are broad and we talk about a variety of things, business and personal. Our monthly meetings are basically a mini-business coach sessions where I try to absorb as much as I can and be open to learning. Working with a mentor is so valuable because you have access to knowledge you can’t get in the classroom and you build a relationship with someone who genuinely wants to help you develop as a businessperson.

Overall, this was the best decision I made this year. Despite going to school full-time, working part-time and commuting 2 hours each day, having a mentor is definitely the smartest decision I’ve made while at university

- Kelsey Strand, BCom

It's all about who you connect with

I am a big believer of the saying "it's all about who you know"; personal connections give guidance & advice, career potential, and the ability to broaden your social network. To this end, the mentorship program at UVic has been one of the single most effective elements of my degree. 
Coming into the program I had a dilemma, enter into the field of finance or marketing. I was matched with a senior marketing executive in a finance company. Using his years of experience and real-life examples, my mentor has made a significant impact on my final year of BCom and my direction coming out of the UVic. 
Using advice from family, work, and friends is great, but having an objective and successful voice giving guidance is invaluable.
I highly recommend the program.  

- Duncan Stanage, BCom

After a great start, informed decisions at graduation

I could not have been involved with the mentorship program at a more important time – my transition from UVIC to the working world. After deciding to pursue my CPA designation, my mentor shared his knowledge about the industry to help me really understand what drives the hiring decisions of accounting firms. The knowledge I gained from my breakfast and coffee meetings with my mentor allowed me to go into the CPA recruiting season feeling very confident.

During the recruiting process itself, I e-mailed my mentor questions and updates and received helpful feedback. Furthermore, my mentor used his own connections to set up a lunch between a KPMG partner and myself. He also gave me valuable advice about putting together my application to a masters program.
I am thrilled with the position I am in now. I have accepted a job offer with KPMG and I have been accepted into the Master in Professional Accounting Program. I owe a huge thanks to my mentor who was an integral part of my success.
- Sean Wiggins, BCom

How I am working with my mentor . . .

My mentor has provided value by requesting a weekly email. This has been a great exercise because not only has it forced me to reflect on a weekly basis but it has also enabled us to get to know each other on a much more personal level. For the price of one email per week I would say the benefits make it one of the best investments I have made to date.
Aside from gaining access to a large network and valuable advice, I have received access to potential jobs I would never have had without the mentor program. 

- Max Weber, BCom 

Mentee remembers and says thanks

Dear Roman Hahn,

I thought I would write to thank you for your mentoring counsel.  I ended up pursuing a career in banking on the retail side, as you advised, and have been able to move up fairly quickly here at Scotiabank. I have progressed two positions since graduating and hope to move to financial advisor in the next year or so. 
Currently I do lending and investing at the branch level and love to discuss investments. I have completed the course work for my CIM and have one test left for my CFP. Scotiabank has been good to me and I could see myself being here a long time.  I am not sure if I want to move into the management side after time as a financial advisor or onto Scotia McLeod but I have time to figure that out. 
I wanted to say hello and let you know that every time I do an interview your name comes up as to how I got here. The mentorship program was one of the most valuable things I did during my BCom years - thank you!
- Greg Middleton, BCom

Making it work

Good news to report on my mentoring relationship, as I'm finding it perfect so far. My mentor has been busy and out of town a fair bit but its worked out because I have been in the same state. We have exchanged a number of emails, a couple phone calls and have sat down for dinner once last month. I am touching base with him again next week. As far as the 'meat' of the mentorship, so far so good. He's been great at clarifying things for me and answering any questions I have and I feel like it’s working out as a great set up. It’s amazing actually, when he shared his story through school and his youth I couldn't help but laugh a few times because of how similar it has been to my own experiences thus far.

Aaron Larmour, BCom


Life lasting effects

I suspect I will continue to feel the effects of the mentorship program throughout the rest of my life. I enjoy hearing and learning from others' stories, and I value an external perspective on my thoughts. The great thing about the program though is that it's flexible. I prefer a low-key setting, and I suspect Robin (the program coordinator) picked up on that in our first conversation and accounted for it when suggesting possible mentors. This resulted in mentor matches that felt very comfortable for me, while still gently challenging some of my longstanding assumptions and giving me exposure to working professionals in the areas of strategy and financial planning. This sort of "optional" program is not something I usually participate in, but I will never regret getting involved with the mentor program, and I can only imagine how it might positively affect my life in the future.

Sam McCracken, BCom

Hey, ask how your mentor is doing!

I completed my biz school education several decades back, when mentoring programs were not the norm. I know that such a program, if offered then, would have been very valuable in setting me up to deal with the real world of business. So the program at UVic has my support and admiration, which is why I participate with enthusiasm.

I think that one of the benefits of this program to students is to have the chance to practice business-social skills that will be helpful “out there”. Building rapport with your bosses, co-workers, suppliers and customers is a very soft skill that has very concrete outcomes. Learning how to do this is not usually on the core curriculum, so using your mentor as a testing ground for this is a good idea.

One of the ways student-mentees can add to their own skill set is to practice some of the common courtesies we all hope are part of everyday business life. Simple things like asking how your mentor is doing, what he is up to, whether you can buy him or her a cup of coffee once in a while, and how much time is available for discussion might be on your list. Showing a genuine interest in your mentor takes very little time and effort, and can make the whole meeting flow better - which can only benefit you. And please, a thank you - easy and cheap!

- From a current GSB Mentor

Mentor - program with benefits!

In my opinion the Mentor Program is up there with going on exchange and attending networking sessions in terms of its potential post-graduation benefits; it is an essential component of a modern education, which includes much more than coursework. Over the course of my time in the BCom program I had two mentors - the first at acceptance to the program and the second during my job search before graduation. I was actually quite happy to have two mentors, as each had a different career path and was able to provide specific advice and insights from their own experiences. My intention was to enter the field of finance, and my mentors with CFP and CFA designations respectively covered the "sell-side" and "buy-side" very well. While I was very interested in asking my mentors questions, they were interested in my background as well and in helping me narrow down my future plans. For their time and efforts, both mentors suggested that I "pay it forward" in the future; I am looking forward to being a mentor after gaining some experience of my own.

- Tim Boehm, BCom

Mutual passion for non-profits

I really enjoy my meetings with my mentor Jamie Hubick and the opportunity to speak about our mutual passion about the non-profit sector.  Our relationship has allowed me to be exposed to the various aspects of this industry and gain a better, more complete understanding of my future career goals and ambitions.  Aside from the career aspect, Jamie has been a great resource as someone to just sit and talk with as he is such a great listener.  His experiences and expertise provides for an excellent viewpoint and opinion, helping me to further understand the important aspects of my life and giving me a chance to learn my own strengths and weaknesses. 

- Anthea Chang,  BCom

First meeting!

My mentor and I went for breakfast today. It was a valuable experience for me. My mentor has an abundance of varied experience and gave me some real world advice I don't necessarily get in the classroom. I enjoyed the opportunity to talk to someone who has been such a leader in the business world. I think we are both on the same page and looking forward to a continued mentoring relationship. It is especially great Doug started his career the way I plan to do as well.

- Sean Wiggins, BCom

Changed my life

My relationship with my mentor has changed my life (as cliche as that sounds). She has been a source of friendship and wisdom, and of laughter. I couldn't be happier with this experience.

- Recent student feedback

Builds relationships that last

I hope all the mentees and mentors get as much out of this program as I do.  I still have contact with all my mentees, some of which go back several years now; and formal relationships have morphed into something more like friendships.  Somewhat to my surprise, there are still discussions which arise over both workplace and career challenges, but also just some good old-fashioned camaraderie! 

- Roger Wheelock, Mentor

A business education is more than academics

A successful business education meant much more to me than thriving academically - I believe that the best thing one can do is expose themselves to as many extra-curricular opportunities as possible - to stretch your comfort zone and to expand your network above and beyond expectations. This includes taking advantage of the Gustavson Executive Mentor Program.

Joining the program I was offered a number of outstanding and talented mentor options that suited my interests – one in particular stood out for me and after meeting him for the first time I felt comfortable and confident about my future.

After defining our goals for the mentor experience, we met once a month to reflect on the past, present and future and ultimately help me find a summer internship position within a great culture and with unlimited learning opportunities.

We learned immensely from each other and I was lucky enough to find a summer internship that suited my needs. Not only did my mentor help me achieve my goals, but he connected me to people I could never imagine meeting.

My advice...Get out of your comfort zone, define your goals during your time at Gustavson and take advantage of all the amazing people and resources we have - you'd be surprised how much faster you can get where you want to go.

- Logan Gibson, BCom 

A great connector for international students

The mentor program is a wonderful opportunity to connect with experienced professionals for international students like myself. Not knowing anyone in Canada, it was very important to meet new people and to create a network and connect with someone from the same industry as myself - I found such a mentor through the program.

My mentor was helpful from our very first meeting. He helped me learn about the Canadian job market and professional norms, and guided me in how to translate MBA learning into a successful career next step. Moreover, my mentor was kind enough to help me connect with other professionals from the same industry. A meeting with one of my mentor’s contacts started a series of events that resulted in a job offer. This wouldn't have been possible without the guidance and support of my mentor. I’m ever grateful to him for guiding me along the process and enabling me to make the relevant connections.

- Inam ur Raheem, MBA 

Mentor helped shape who I am today

For unbiased opinion on what's right for you, advice from someone who's been there, for bouncing ideas around, for making connections and discovering new possibilities - don't wait, sign up to be matched with a mentor today!

- Ashley Roulston, BCom, Director & COO Industrial Plankton Inc.

What color is your parachute?

Students prepping for interviews should read “What color is your parachute?” - Cheesy title but super helpful read and process.

To give some tangible evidence, I went from failing every job interview for months, to getting job offers after every job interview after reading that book – an amazing before and after for me.

It gave me confidence and clarity in my career choice, and a much better outlook on interviews and changing jobs in general. I highly recommend it to all who are looking to start a new job. 

One of the take-aways from that book for students and recent grads is to check your approach to job interviews. Are you coming in with an “I want to work for your company” approach or an “I want this job” approach? Unfortunately, many people come across as the latter only which can seem desperate and selfish even if you don’t mean to be.

- Charlotte O’Reilly, BCom, Digital Strategist, Upanup Studios

Frequently asked questions

What is a mentor?

Mentors are role models and guides. They are business people who share their experience and expertise with you to help you plan and develop your career. Many will help you with your life goals. A mentor will complement your studies by providing firsthand insights into the world of business. And, in some cases, a mentor can introduce you to others who can help you with your professional aspirations.

See Get a mentor or Become a mentor to get started.

How do I get involved with the program?

One of the first steps is it the "learn about the program" pages. If you don't find what you are looking for, contact  or through the Gustavson School of Business Student Services office at 250-472-4488.

How does the program work?

We match you with a mentor of your choice who most closely fits your mentoring goals and expectations. There are also events planned each year to permit you to meet potential mentors in a social environment. Once you are matched, it is up to you and your mentor to decide how to govern your relationship - there are no set agendas or "rules of engagement."

Why would a student want a mentor?

Our students seek mentors in order to:
  • learn the "ins and outs" of industries or organizations through talking to professional
  • have a confidant to talk to about concerns or ideas
  • receive guidance, advice and encouragement in issues like: career planning and job search, balancing work and family or being a woman in the work force
  • gain access to networking opportunities through social events and events planned by students and mentors
  • practice networking and communication skills when meeting new people
  • gain connections in fields or industries of interest
  • learn about the business environment

Why mentor a student?

Mentors benefit in the following ways:
  • receive invitations to various social events, networking opportunities with other mentors, faculty, staff and students
  • contribute to the development of future management in our community and beyond
  • build connections and friendships with future leaders in business
  • give back to society what you may have received in the past
  • learn and grow through exposure to new ideas, problem solving, and discussions
  • keep informed of issues in business education at UVic

See Become a mentor to get started.

What do mentors and students do together?

  • attend company meetings, planning sessions or social events together
  • meet for coffee, lunch or dinner
  • mentors often introduce protégés to other professionals
  • mentors can give feedback on course assignments
  • mentors occasionally give students role playing activities for certain situations, (e.g. mock interviews)
  • participate in sports activities (golf, squash, jogging, tennis)
  • mentors sometimes involve the student in a project
  • students may assist the mentor with issues faced by their organization
  • mentors can offer students a plant or company tour or provide protégés the opportunity to "shadow" the mentor for a day

What type of commitment is involved?

Participation in our executive mentor program is purely voluntary. However, once participants enter a mentor-protégé relationship, we do have some guidelines:

  • the onus is on the students to maintain communication with their mentor
  • participants should try to maintain the relationship for at least eight months
  • participants must keep confided confidential personal or business information to themselves
  • students must act responsibly since they are ambassadors of UVic
  • students must realize that mentors are not their personal job seekers
  • participants should periodically communicate with the program director
  • attendance at the mentor program events is required and expected

Career Cruising

  • A link of interest is Career Cruising, an external service, used by the Gustavson Co-op and Careers Program, that guides you through potential careers. To check it out enter "uvic" as your username and "careers" as your password.

Other Resources

  • The Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA) has developed a very comprehensive Mentoring Handbook with worksheets and detailed guidelines for mentors and protégés.

  • RiipenA site to connect students with projects to build experience.

  • Innovative Centre for Entrepreneurism (ICE) - Support for anyone in the UVic community with an idea they wish to turn into a venture.

  • Mentor Network  - A site dedicated to furthering the value and art of mentoring.