Peer-to-Peer Mentor Program Builds Community Among Students

Justin Burns, LEAD Facilitator
At Neeley, new MBA students have many allies to aid in their transition to TCU. In addition to staff and faculty resources, incoming Neeley MBA students are paired with a second-year mentor. The peer-to-peer mentor program is part of a broader student development program coordinated by Anne Rooney, executive director of graduate programs. Prior to joining Neeley, Rooney facilitated employee development programs for high-potential employees at AT&T. 

The peer mentor program is led by a team of second-year students, known as LEAD Facilitators, that work to match volunteer second-year students with first-years. Mentors and mentees are introduced early in the summer, before classes start. The first mixer is held during the first week of school.

“A significant part of an MBA program is learning from your peers,” says Justin Burns, second-year MBA and LEAD Facilitator. “The mentoring program helps build the relationships between first- and second-year students, contributing to peer-to-peer learning, as well as networking between classes.”

“For mentees, the mentor program gives first-year students an opportunity to ask all those questions that you might not be able to ask faculty,” says Casey Schuler, a first-year MBA student and Burns’ mentee. “As a mentee, I felt comfortable asking my mentor about course loads, teachers and which companies to focus on in the area. I was able to learn from my mentor’s experience to maximize the value of the time I spend over the next two years.”

But the program isn’t only a benefit to first-year students. “As a mentor, it provides students the opportunity to reflect on their first year and offer advice to somebody going through the same things they went through,” says Burns. “Encouraging students to reflect on their own experiences nurtures the individual’s growth.”

Burns says the relationships aren’t only about helping first-years acclimate to school, but in helping them adjust to the changes that come with beginning an MBA program. For some this includes moving to Dallas-Fort Worth from other parts of the world or other parts of the country, as was the case with Schuler. He and his wife moved from Milwaukee to D-FW this summer. Burns’ relationship with Schuler provided an opportunity for Schuler and his wife to get to know others who live in the area and develop a support system in Texas.

“The mentor program very much fits with the family-type environment that differentiates TCU,” says Schuler. “[Justin] was one of the first people who reached out to me during my transition to Fort Worth. Not only did interacting with a second-year help me feel more comfortable going into my MBA, but it also helped the transition for my wife, who was brand-new to Texas.”

It is the goal of the Neeley School of Business to make the transition back to school as smooth as possible for students, and the mentor program is one more way to accomplish that goal.

This program “is just another example of Neeley really making an effort to ensure all incoming MBA candidates feel like they are joining a community rather than simply attending school,” says Shane Beckley, MBA ’17. “This sense of community is precisely why I chose Neeley over offers from other B-schools. I look forward to continuing my relationship with my mentor and hope that even after I graduate, I can still go to him for sage-like guidance.”

The goal of the mentor mixer during the first week of school is to offer an opportunity for mentors and mentees to meet face to face, says Burns. “We want to support and encourage these relationships as much as possible. The mixer is just one of multiple events we have set up to support the mentor program,” he says.

Interested in getting a TCU MBA? Request more info about the Neeley School of Business graduate program or apply now.

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