UWF mentoring program connects students with business leaders

  • March 23, 2016
  • /   Reggie Dogan
  • /   training-development

UWF student Dacotah Ledbetter, left, with her mentor, Amy Miller, center, Port of Pensacola Director, and Rus Howard, right, chairman of DeepGulf Inc.

Having a mentoring program in your business allows you to capitalize on your greatest resource, your employees.

Companies benefit from mentoring programs because they contribute to the development of a better-trained and engaged workforce.

The University of West Florida College of Business Executive Mentoring program is matching 50 students with mentors from businesses throughout Northwest Florida.

Mentees will work with executives to receive personal development, networking and one-on-one guidance for career planning.

At the same time mentors will offer counseling, influence and preparation for the next generation of business leaders, by sharing stories, knowledge, skills and advice.

Dr. Sherry Hartnett, director o the Executive Mentor Program and clinical assistant professor of business, said the mentoring program is invaluable to students and their careers.

“One of the things I am most proud of is that research shows the program increases the students’ soft skills: professionalism, communication, self-confidence and networking," Hartnett said. “Equally important, more than 95 percent of our participants have gained jobs in their field after graduation. I truly believe the Executive Mentor Program helps prepare for successful lives and careers.

The Executive Mentor Program is open to full-time juniors, seniors and graduate students. It matches UWF College of Business scholars with influential community leaders who share their personal and professional experience.

The program accepts new participants in the fall and spring, providing mentors and mentees an opportunity learn from each other.

An average of 50 students each year have been matched with a mentor since the program began in 2012, with some business leaders participating more than one term.

For more information, visit uwf.edu/executivementor.

John Hosman, a partner with FS Advisors Inc., has served as a mentor since the first class and finds the experience rewarding.

“The Executive Mentor Program connects students with business leaders who can provide advice and the intangibles that are not typically taught in the classroom,” Hosman said. “It has been a great opportunity to pass along advice that I wish I would have received when graduating.”

An important part of mentoring is offering professional advice and tips on how to navigate in the business world. Hosman said he gives mentees tips on professional attire, email etiquette and how to create a transition plan from college to career.

“Two of my mentees have gotten jobs because of their involvement in the program,” he said.

Students are selected for the program based on campus and community service, prior academic and leadership experience, eligibility requirements and academic goals.

Gabriel Glaysher, a senior business management student, is in the second year of the program. His mentor is Brian Baumgardner, president and CEO of West Florida Hospital.

“Having a mentor has been a great networking opportunity for me,” Glaysher said. “When a CEO of a company can meet with me for an hour and focus entirely on helping me succeed in my future career after graduation, it demonstrates how much my mentor cares about impacting students at UWF.”