College Connect: Kick-off Reflection

By: Glen

This year, I have am a participant in the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce’s College Connect program. The Chamber created this program to connect leaders in the Duluth area with the young, ascending college students nearby. The hope is the connection and development of the students and mentors will keep the students in the area after graduation. I will be reporting on my experience, giving my thoughts on the events along the way!

Meeting my Mentor

Of course, I had no idea what was going to happen upon arriving at the first networking event of the series. The only thing I knew was I had a mentor, and I was going to meet this mentor.

My mentor turned out to be someone that has worked in a wide variety of places, taking a path that is quite relatable to all of my current career ideas. In fact, my mentor even progressed thorough careers in the same order I am considering. This was incredibly surprising, as my interests are in recruiting, hiring, training, admissions, academic advising, and career counseling. My mentor has had experience in Human Resources, Admissions, Registrar, and Academic Advising. The best part of my mentor having experience in related fields is how many other mentees at the event were finding this to be true with their own mentors. Two friends of mine who are fellow mentees echoed the same pleasant surprise I had when I spoke to them after the event.

Networking Practice

The actual event itself was not just a time to sit and talk with your mentor; the coordinators mixed everyone up and forced us to have conversations. We played two different networking games to teach people the laid back nature of talking to anyone, even strangers.

We first entered a two-ring circle, with the mentors on the outside and the mentees on the inside. It was a musical chairs type affair, with the two rings moving in opposite directions. When we were told to stop, the mentor and mentee across from each other were given a chance to discuss a simple topic. Next, the entire group participated in a game where the room would be our country, and we would walk to different places that made sense for the given question asked of us. For example, one question asked was, “Where do you remember a vacation from your childhood taking place?” The group would then chat among the people who were nearby, sharing their experience.

These games proved to be more than just a fun time. There is a good lesson for anyone trying to make connections in the world: Do not be afraid to talk about yourself, your ideas, and your passions. It is much easier to remember someone if there was an interesting conversation involved, versus just a name and a major.

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