The Beacom School of Business’ commitment to student success is reflected in its many innovative engagements. A new initiative launched last year at Beacom aims to provide students with industry executive mentors to bolster student success even further.
The Coyote Mentoring Program is designed to enhance the classroom experience by linking students with executives for one-on-one mentoring, offering students the opportunity to learn about the way business is practiced today, under the guidance of top executives. Mentors share career advice and valuable insight into the transition to the post–college world, while students build career networks and develop skills to become better professionals and leaders.
Pat Boehmer is a 1984 graduate of USD and was partner at KPMG Chicago before recently retiring after 37 years there. He has mentored two Beacom students thus far and plans to still foster relationships with students in the program, even though he is no longer working.
“I enjoy being able to share some of my experience with someone starting their career and also learn about current events from their perspective,” Boehmer said. “My hope is that the mentees find our discussions relevant as they make the transition from student to professional. For myself, I will come away with a greater appreciation for the School of Business and its great students.”
Haley Duffield is a senior double majoring in accounting and finance, originally from the Sisseton, South Dakota area. Over the past year, she and her mentor—Boehmer—have had a standing monthly phone call. “I enjoy having someone to run questions by whenever I have one that does not relate to schoolwork,” Duffield said. “At the beginning I asked a lot of questions, but now it is more of a casual conversation. But of course, my mentor is always willing to answer questions and is very responsive.”
Christie Ernst is participating in her second year of the mentor program, guiding two students each year. As executive vice president of property management at Lloyd Companies in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Ernst indicates that the mentoring program is not only beneficial to the students. “Working with some of the top B School students is refreshing,” she said. “The students I have been paired with are bright and eager to find their way in the business world. They ask thoughtful questions which helps challenge my way of thinking too.”
Recent graduate Tristan Moeding was one of Ernst’s mentees and landed his full-time job as a property manager with Lloyd Companies because of his relationship with Ernst.
“I couldn’t have done it without the mentorship program,” Moeding explained. “It really helped me to gain exposure to the real business world and know what to expect after graduation.”
The Coyote Mentoring Program complements several other existing Beacom programs aimed at boosting student retention, persistence, graduation and career success, peer advising, tutoring, faculty advising/mentoring and career-success workshops.
In 2020, the second cohort group of 26 Beacom students was paired with 14 mentors, comprised of Beacom alumni and supporters, at 13 organizations around the country.
Mandy Hanson is manager of the Career Success Center at Beacom. She said the mentor/mentee parings were made based on matching career goals, geographic location and personal interests.
“The first cohort went really well,” Hanson said. “The second time around, to help facilitate meaningful conversations, we suggest a topic for discussion such as current issues in the profession, the job market, the mentor’s approaches to ethical and professional dilemmas, career goals, career tracks, management issues and quality of life in the profession.”
Though individual student goals and challenges vary significantly, the dynamics of all these partnerships have one thing in common: They have lasting and profound impacts.
“I had some great mentors throughout my career and I see this as my opportunity to pay it forward,” Ernst said. “I hope that I can be a resource to my mentees during this program and in the future.”