Ohio University’s Career and Leadership Development Center (CLDC) recently expanded to include several new positions relating to the center’s renewed focus on partnerships. Among the new hires is Dori Branch, the assistant director for mentorship programming with the Ohio University Alumni Association.
As a two-time OHIO alumna and a former graduate assistant at the CLDC, Branch’s university connections are plentiful, making her well-suited to the challenges of her new position. Among other duties, she is tasked with creating a university-wide mentorship program that any student, alumni, faculty member or friend of the university can utilize, as a mentor or mentee. While the project is still in its early phases, it promises to yield mentorship opportunities that span career interests, geographical locations, ethnicity and interests.
How would you sum up the mentorship program you’re working on?
We’re currently in the process of getting a platform. If we get the platform we’re trying to get, it’ll allow us to have three levels of commitment. I think that’s really nice because students and alumni are both looking for different levels of commitment and different things from mentors and mentees. There will be the option to do one-off mentoring, or flash mentoring. That will be a one time, 30-minute conversation with different people. The next level will be to join a program, so that will probably be from a semester to an academic year. The next level will be a community. The communities are still very up for interpretation, but we’re taking a lot of different people’s perspectives into consideration when creating those. We’ve had a lot of different partners that have been really great.
Where did you get the idea to do three different levels?
It’s what our potential platform provides, and we want to make sure that because people want different things out of mentorship, we’re able to accommodate as many of those things as possible.
How is this program going to benefit students specifically?
I think there’s a lot of different types of students that are all going to benefit in different ways, whether it’s for networking purposes or just career exploration and making sure you’re working toward the career you actually want. If you think you want to get out of Ohio, asking someone that lives outside of Ohio can be helpful. Overall, it will just reassure that they’re comfortable in their decisions and their pathways. Also, I think hearing from people who have succeeded and maybe even struggled can help students navigate that world before they get into it.
Although it’s early on, how can students, alumni and faculty get involved in this program?
The current timeline shows that we’re going to do a beta test in the spring and a hard roll-out in the fall. All students and alumni will be invited to the platform. We’re working on the marketing portion right now, so I can’t share too many details yet, but look out for emails about the program. If students want to get involved in the beta test, they should email me as soon as possible. That will just be a small group of people. The important thing is knowing that they’re beta testers, and there will be bugs and things won’t go well. But that’s the point; we want to test it on people so that when we do it for everyone, we really are making sure that all the needs are met.
What’s your favorite thing about OHIO?
Easily, the people. If you would have asked me during my undergrad, I would have said the place – it’s a beautiful campus, and that’s what first drew me here. But I think what drew me to keep coming back was the people. They’re invested in me, and I’m equally invested in them. I love talking to students as much as I love talking to alumni and my coworkers. I love everything about it.
What excites you about working with both students and alumni?
I love connecting people. Even in my time between undergrad and grad, I worked in film casting, so I loved hiring actors and helping them find the right part. Same thing goes with alumni and students – it’s really a perfect pairing where I meet students who say, “I really want to go work at a certain company,” and I’m like, “Great, we have alumni there. Let’s make that happen.” What’s really nice about my job and what I love about it is when I get to career coach and leadership coach with students. Just sitting and talking with them about their interests and learning about each person individually really drives me and motivates me. I love it.
Written by Hannah Schuller, Content Marketing Intern for the CLDC