Maryville College is wrapping up the first semester of its latest partnership with 21st Mortgage. Introduced last spring for rising Junior Social Science Majors, this collaboration was offered as a one-hour portfolio class created for students interested in developing professionalism, leadership skills and an understanding of the work world. Through this program, students were given the opportunity to cultivate meaningful relationships with working professionals and expand their professional network.
Maryville College has had a longstanding relationship with 21st Mortgage, and this particular program has been in the works for several years.
“Our partner at 21st Mortgage, Jessica Brewer, and I have been collaborating on a mentorship program for MC students for two to three years now,” said Sarah Yeaple, the Director of the Career Center at Maryville College. “We are both MC alumni and shared a passion for how valuable we thought a mentorship program could be. This is very much a long-time coming and a labor of love for us both.”
Once the program was structured, Yeaple and Brewer were able to collaborate with Dr. Gabie Kerr, professor in management at MC, on bringing the program to fruition.
Employees at 21st Mortgage volunteered as mentors in the program, many of which are Maryville College alumni. Connecting students with MC alumni is valuable in helping students genuinely connect with their mentor, as many of the mentors have been in the same position as students, whether it be managing college coursework or preparing for life after graduation. Having mentors who are not only familiar with student life but have also navigated the same campus as their mentees helps create a safe space for students to ask for advice and express their concerns or uncertainties about what it takes to be successful during and after college.
“With this mentorship program, students can gain candid, current, real-world perspective and advice about the challenges young professionals face in today’s world of work,” said Yeaple. “Being not so far removed from college themselves, our mentors can connect with students in a way that can provide that first-hand knowledge of what the recent job search was like, what’s hard about starting in a new organization and/or transitioning out of college and what they wish they had done better or known earlier. Even if students aren’t interested in working for 21st Mortgage, this program offers so many pathways to build a network in the Blount and Knox County area.”
Students had the opportunity to meet in person or virtually with their mentor once a month and engage in weekly conversations about professional development topics like acquiring internships, financial planning, interviewing and resume building. Students also had the opportunity to do team-building with mentors and other students through participation in a service project at Second Harvest Food Bank. As community service is an integral part of employment at 21st Mortgage, students were given a glimpse at what life at the company could be like if they were to pursue employment there in the future.
To some students the prospect of post-college professional life may be daunting. It may sometimes feel like there’s a disconnect between college coursework and career readiness. Students are conditioned to succeed academically, but academia can fall short in providing students with the tools they need to prosper in a professional environment. However, supplementary programs like this mentorship experience may help bridge this discernable gap between college and career.
“There is always an adjustment period from going to classes daily to working full time in an office environment,” said Carly Filicky, MC alum and Associate Credit Manager at 21st Mortgage.
Filicky participated in this program as a mentor and believes students can add value to their college experience by participating in the program.
“It can really help students to get a feel for what life is like after graduation and start looking towards the next steps,” said Filicky.
As Maryville College looks forward to the spring 2022 semester, students can expect to see more development in the program. To learn more about participating in next semester’s program, students can refer to the [email protected] News as well as signage posted in Thaw Hall.