Mentor Program Helps Connect Students to Careers

Thursday, May 25, 2017

For the past three years the Mentor Program, run through the Ahlers Center for International Business in the University of San Diego School of Business, has focused on enhancing the career preparation and skill sets of students involved with the International Business Club and majoring or minoring in international business. This year, students were paired with mentors from WD-40, Qualcomm, UTC Aerospace Systems, Mitchell International, Leidos, BD, Althea Ajinomoto and Hologic.

"The program staff did an amazing job of pairing us with people who had taken similar paths," says Conor Robertson '17 BA (Biochemistry), who was paired with Melissa Rosness '98 BA (Chemistry), '08 MBA. "Melissa helped me think about graduate school and my career. I was able to bounce ideas off her, which was really helpful especially as I neared graduation."

Originally from Bellevue, Washington, Robertson has accepted a position with a health policy organization in Seattle. After gaining a few years of experience, he intends to enroll in graduate school for management or public administration--fields that will help him build leadership and communications skills that he plans to leverage with his science background.

Isabella Frediani '18 BBA (International Business), originally from Oakland, had a similar experience with her mentor, Jennifer Arrowsmith, who is the senior manager of sustainability and corporate responsibility with Qualcomm. 

"Through Jennifer, I learned a lot about corporate social responsibility and the many different functions with which it interacts--human resources, marketing, legal and more," says Frediani. This insight came, in part, through a workshop at Qualcomm, hosted by BSR (Business for Social Responsibility), which allowed Frediani to connect with professionals from Monsanto, Visa, Guess and elsewhere. Arrowsmith also spoke at a meeting of USD's Net Impact Club, of which Frediani is president. Inspired to earn a graduate degree related to corporate social responsibility, Frediani will spend the summer before her senior year interning in marketing and business development with a company in San Antonio, Texas.

"I never would have met Jennifer if it had not been for the Mentor Program," says Frediani. "She helped solidify for me what I want to do in the future."

Though only a sophomore when she participated in the Mentor Program, Emmalyn Spruce '19 BBA (Economics) is already thinking about her career goals. 

"I have started to think about going to law school--I'm specifically interested in mergers and acquisitions and contract law," says Spruce. Like Robertson and Frediani, she was well-matched with Ryan Simon '16 MBA, corporate counsel at Hologic. Part of her mentorship included visiting Hologic for a deep-dive into what it's really like to be an in-house counsel. 

Spruce also has an affinity for finance, further developed by her internship in La Jolla with a private equity firm. She envisions a future where maybe she bridges private equity with law. The best part of the mentor program for her was not just exploring these future career options but also building her network: connecting with Simon gave her the courage to contact the in-house counsel at her internship.

Says Spruce: "Having the practice and the skills now from the program to continue to ask questions and get different perspectives--that's really something I can take with me moving forward."

For more information about the International Business Club or its Mentor Program, Erin Kellaway, external programs manager in the Ahlers Center, at (619) 260-6809. 


Amy Schmitz
(619) 260-4658