First-Year MBAs Grow Networks Through Executive Mentor Program

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As MBAs prepare for roles with more responsibility and a broader scope of work, they need an understanding of how to navigate an organization at a top-tier level. They need advice on how to build productive networks, as well as how to actively and purposefully distinguish themselves from the pack. It's for these reasons that the Neeley School developed its Executive Mentor program, offering MBA students the chance to learn from someone who has already successfully traversed this path.  

“The full-time MBA journey is both rigorous and transformative. Along the way, our students are coached by career center staff to create their career action plans, of which networking is a huge component,” says LaTanya Johns, director of the Graduate Career Center. “In addition to the numerous alumni and corporate recruiters, our students benefit from the expertise, experience and guidance of our corporate mentors. Each of our mentors has 20-plus years of professional work experience and holds a position of influence at their respective companies.”

Johns approached Bethann Roberts, founding partner and president of Legend Sales and Consulting and longtime TCU Professional MBA coach, to structure the mentoring program for first-year MBA students. Together, Johns and Roberts designed a program “focused on giving students exposure to executives, teaching the value of networking and helping students navigate some of the difficult decisions they encounter as they go through their MBA program,” Roberts explains.

Executive mentors help the students make decisions about internships, review student resumes and share their own personal business experiences. The mentoring relationship is all about having “someone who is impartial but committed to your success,” says Roberts.

The program receives great feedback. At the end of the first semester, mentees and mentors were asked to complete a survey about the program. “I appreciate being invited to serve as a mentor,” wrote one mentor. “The experience has worked well for my mentee and I thus far.”

“I really appreciated the devotion the mentors have,” said one student. “They are well invested in this.”

“My mentor helps me to adapt to the business etiquette of the country,” wrote another. “Being an international student, I find it really helpful.”

As a result of the mentoring program, one student, Morgan Ferguson, was offered an internship with BNSF, where her mentor, Katie Baker, is director of marketing. Both Ferguson and her mentor are interested in entrepreneurship and innovation. Ferguson says Baker has “helped her to see the innovative nature of BNSF and the opportunities for innovation.” 

“I see a lot of value connecting students with the business community,” says Baker, who is a graduate of the PMBA program at TCU. “It is another way I can give back to my alma mater and community.” 

How It Works

At the start of the program, participating mentors and mentees were given the opportunity to meet each other and then provide input on their interests and backgrounds. Once matched, students were required to initiate contact with their mentors. The executive mentors have committed to meet with their mentees six times throughout the course of the year. Mentors also attended their mentees’ Integrated Project presentations.

“This program has a great structure. I know it's worth my time, and it hasn’t become too restrictive or cumbersome,” says Baker. “It is a small time commitment that can pay off in big ways.”

A “key differentiator for the TCU MBA is that students are getting exposure to executives in the marketplace who can help give them insight, help them understand and build their networks, introduce them to other executives for securing internships and potentially future opportunities,” explains Roberts. The Executive Mentor Program is one way the Neeley School is able to demonstrate value to students.

“The TCU MBA program has the resources to support its candidates' learning outside of the classroom, as shown by this Executive Mentor Program,” says second-year MBA Chelsea Franklin, who was mentored by Randy Johnson, director of marketing for The Heart Hospital Baylor Plano and The Heart Hospital Baylor Denton. “It's not every day you are given a connection with an executive! I look forward to maintaining this relationship beyond my years with TCU, and I hope that one day I will be in Randy's position where I am asked to serve as an executive mentor to an aspiring TCU MBA.”

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

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