Tom Spinelli (’82, health policy and administration) was a member of the first “class” of mentors when the program launched in 2002. Although he is currently mentoring his third student, Lynda Jones, Tom still keeps in touch with his second protégé, Katherine Schultz (’04, health policy and administration).
Katherine jumped at the opportunity to be part of the program when she first heard about it – she was looking for guidance on what she should do after graduation, and she was eager to get an in-depth look at a career in health policy and administration from someone who was already in the field. Katherine also was excited by the opportunity to network with a Penn State alum.
Tom also jumped at the opportunity to be a part of the program as soon as he learned about it. “In my work life, I found it essential to have a mentor – especially to gauge your strengths and weaknesses in the work setting,” he says. “I wanted an opportunity to share with protégés the valuable experiences [that I had] while I was attending Penn State, and what has resonated with me over the years and helped me in my career in healthcare.”
After meeting at the kickoff dinner and workshop in 2003, Tom and Katherine began communicating about once a week. Katherine also visited Tom’s workplace, Standard Technology, Inc., for a day during spring break. In addition to introducing her to many of his coworkers – some of whom were Penn State alumni – Katherine says that Tom taught her more about the company, what it was like to work in government and what a typical day was like for him.
“It was an invaluable opportunity that few college students get to experience,” she shares.
Tom also helped Katherine extend her professional network by introducing her to a married couple in her hometown of West Chester, PA with whom he had worked. They quickly became her “co-mentors” and provided advice during her job search. Katherine still keeps in touch with them regularly.
Katherine feels that she has benefited in many ways from being part of the mentoring program. “Tom has been a great person to get to know,” she says. “Participating in this program was a great choice, because I got to meet someone who has ‘been there’ and has given me candid and useful advice from the second half of my college experience through the beginning of my career.”
What advice does Katherine have for current protégés? “Ask a lot of questions about what your mentor does,” she says. “Definitely try to schedule time to visit your mentor in the workplace. But, most importantly, keep a good relationship with your mentor by communicating every so often. If you haven’t talked in a while, send a quick e-mail to update him/her on what’s new in your life.”
Meanwhile, Tom stresses the importance of mentors and protégés learning from each other. “It has been a great opportunity for me to learn from these protégés and the incredible talents they have,” he says “I’m impressed with the excitement that protégés have about their upcoming graduation. The opportunities are endless. All of the protégés have demonstrated their hunger for knowledge and the focus on success.” In addition, the opportunity to reconnect with Penn State and with fellow alumni has been “a thrill.”
Tom, who is now employed as a Medicare policy expert at Pearson Government Solutions, continues to exchange emails and phone calls with his current protégé, Lynda, and plans to mentor others in the future. Katherine, who works as a consultant for Accenture in Philadelphia, looks forward to mentoring a student once she is settled in her job.
Thank you, Tom and Katherine, for contributing to the success of the mentoring program!
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Photos from the three mentoring dinners are now online! To view the photos, go to www.hhdev.psu.edu/alumni/mentor/kickoff_photos.html.
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Since the start of the mentoring program, 97.3 percent of the mentors and 96 percent of the protégés report that they are either “very” or “somewhat” satisfied with their participation in the program. Ninety-seven percent of mentors and 98 percent of protégés also say they are “very likely” to recommend the mentoring program to a fellow alum or classmate.
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For protégés to ask mentors: What was the first job you had when you graduated from Penn State? How did it prepare you for your current job?
For mentors to ask protégés: What are your plans for the summer? Do you have an internship lined up? What do you need to do in advance to prepare for your internship?
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Upcoming events at Penn State:
April 23: Blue/White Game
April 29: Classes End
May 2-6: Finals Week
May 14: Commencement
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Daily Collegian: http://www.collegian.psu.edu/
Penn State Newswires (subscribe): http://newswires.psu.edu/
College of Health and Human Development Homepage: www.hhdev.psu.edu
Penn State Live (daily news from Penn State): http://live.psu.edu/
Penn State Alumni Association Homepage: www.alumni.psu.edu
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