When 20 Drake sophomores first met their Nationwide Insurance professional mentors on Jan. 20, it was as much a reunion as it was a meet-and-greet.
Now in its fifth year, the mentor/mentee program between the College of Business and Public Administration and Nationwide Insurance employees has allowed Drake business students to make lasting relationships with experienced professionals at one of Des Moines’ top companies. Many past student participants were at the Jan. 20 event to visit with their mentors and meet the new mentees.
The program, sponsored by Nationwide Agribusiness and Allied’s Des Moines regional office, began in 2008 and is only available to Drake students.
“We’re very excited that our students get this exclusive opportunity,” says Annette Watson, career services manager for Drake’s College of Business and Public Administration and School of Journalism and Mass Communications. “The employees at Nationwide have been awesome to work with.”
Mentors and mentees formally meet four times during the spring semester for a variety of professional development and individual mentoring events, such as networking and discussion panels. Many students and mentors meet more often than the program’s requirements.
To be part of the program, students must apply in the fall semester of their sophomore year. The program is open to all business students, and the participants include a wide range of majors.
Amy Harren, senior marketing and creative advertising major, says the mentorship program helped her build self-confidence personally and professionally.
“My mentor taught me a lot about myself and being a polished business professional,” Harren says. “I feel confident in any kind of networking opportunity knowing I have a strong personal brand that my mentor helped me find.”
Watson says that being part of the program is not a guarantee of an internship or job at Nationwide, but it serves as a great pipeline for making connections.
“Like many mentor programs, it’s what you make of it,” Watson says. “A lot of students still stay in touch with mentors and use them for advice and help with a variety of things. It’s not a huge commitment, but the relationships can go in a lot of different directions.”
The program also benefits Nationwide. The relationships and events help the company tap into a success-oriented talent pool and gain recognition within the Drake community.
“I enjoy the tremendous opportunity we have in helping to shape the future of someone who is just starting out,” says Nationwide Regional Operations Consultant Tracy Augspurger, who is a mentor. “It gives you a sense of pride and accomplishment to share your experiences with them.”
James Hall, senior marketing and accounting major, says he was “stunned” by the opportunity when he went through the program.
“When I really think about the program, I am astonished by just how significant and unique an opportunity I received,” Hall says. “The idea that a major insurance carrier and financial provider would actively reach out to a bunch of students, well, that’s just not done by everyone.”