Tech Students, Alumni Make Connections with Mentor Jackets

Four years ago, about 50 students were matched with Tech alumni as part of a mentorship program. Last year, that number grew to 900, and the Student Alumni Association (SAA) hopes more students and Tech alumni — especially those who are faculty and staff members — will take advantage of the opportunity to forge these mutually beneficial relationships.

Mentor Jackets Speed Networking
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Students and alumni participate in a speed networking event as part of the Mentor Jackets program.

Mentor Jackets matches students with Tech alumni for mentoring, networking and building relationships with others in the Tech community.

“For figuring out where I want to work or who I need to meet, it’s been extremely helpful,” said Kristin Watkins, a fourth-year business administration major going into her third year with a mentor. “Before I was involved, people always told me the Georgia Tech network was so great, but I wasn’t really connected to it and didn’t feel I had an outlet to go to — that’s what Mentor Jackets does.”

Mentor Jackets uses an internal software program to match students and alumni based on academic majors, student involvement, areas of expertise, degrees earned, hometowns and other skills and interests. Mentors may be located in Atlanta or anywhere else in the world. The program encourages them to communicate on a regular basis in whatever form works best for them, whether via email, phone or in person. 

“Students really get it and understand that a relationship with an alum can help their career advancement,” said Bill Todd, professor of the practice and executive director of health care initiatives in the Scheller College of Business. “This is perhaps the most appropriate and meaningful way for an alumnus to get engaged in their alma mater.”

Mentor Jackets also hosts more structured events throughout the year, such as speed networking, guest speakers and beginning and end-of-year celebrations. Participants can meet other mentors and mentees, enabling mentees to practice skills they’re honing and mentors to meet fellow alumni and find new ways to get involved.

“Recruiting top students is macro — it’s big picture. What I really enjoy about the mentorship program is it’s so micro — it’s one person, and you can really see the results reflected in an individual,” Todd said.

Watkins hopes to be on the other side of the mentor-mentee relationship when she becomes an alumna next spring.

“It’s been a great experience. It’s nice to actually get some exposure to people who have made it through Tech and gone through the same thing that you have.”

To participate, students must be members of SAA, which they can join for $10 a year. The $10 registration provides year-round programming focused on career development, networking and becoming engaged alumni. Dues are split between the Student Foundation and SAA’s Gift to Tech, which means all funds are channeled toward student endeavors.

Students or faculty and staff who are also Tech alumni can get involved at gtmentorjackets.com.