Mentoring Program: Overview for Students

The Dedman School of Hospitality’s Hospitality Mentorship Program at the Marriott Career and Professional Development Center connects students seeking guidance in preparation for their hospitality careers with hospitality alumni and industry partners.

The goal of the program is add value and direction a student's college experience by matching the student with a hospitality industry mentor who best fits the student's career goals. This is a valuable professional development resource and provides an opportunity for students to gain feedback on their chosen career paths and insight into the world of hospitality.

What is a mentor?

Mentors are advisors, people with career experience who are willing to share their knowledge. Good mentors are able to share life experiences and wisdom, as well as technical expertise.

How does the program work?

  • The Hospitality Mentorship Program takes place each fall and spring semester.
  • To apply, complete the application form.
  • Students are invited to apply for a mentor and are matched with those who best fit their career goals. Not all students that apply are granted a mentor, but we will do our best to accommodate as many students as possible.
  • The program lasts six weeks. Each week, you and your mentor will communicate over a discussion topic. Sample discussion topics are provided as launching points but are not binding. Other topics are covered at the discretion of the mentor and mentee.
  • If the relationship is not going well, you have two weeks to request a change of mentor. In the event a mentor or mentee does not add value or meaningfully participate, he or she will not be asked to reapply to the program.
  • At the halfway point, you and your mentor will be contacted to ensure the relationship is going well. If you are experiencing any issues, however, please directly contact Alishia Piotrowski. Do not wait on this halfway point to express your concerns.
  • At the end of the six week period, you will be asked to complete an evaluation of the program. Your relationship with the mentor may or may not continue past this six week point, but either way, please be sure to appropriately thank your mentor for their time.

Student mentee guidelines

The Hospitality Mentorship Program is a six-week program and we expect you to communicate with your mentor every week for at least 30 minutes. This communication may be conducted by phone, email, video conference, or in person. Please make sure that you respond in a timely manner to your mentor, and that you initiate contact with them each week.

There is so much to gain from a mentor relationship, and one of the biggest gains is the development of professional communication skills. In all communications with your mentor, be respectful of their time and appreciative of their investment in you. We ask that you abide by the following guidelines:

  • Do not ask for a job! While career opportunities may naturally arise from the mentor/mentee relationship, this is not the only goal and a job is not a condition of mentorship. Mentors are professionals in the industry that are volunteering their time to help you succeed. Please do not tarnish that relationship by directly asking for a position.
  • Always be respectful of mentors and communicate professionally. Be prepared for weekly discussions.
  • Do not ask about a mentor’s personal life. It is appropriate to ask overarching questions, such as how to maintain work-life balance in the field, but there should be no prying.
  • Do not ask about confidential personal or company information.
  • Research your mentor and their company prior to the initial contact. You want to make a good impression, and to do so it is best to do your homework!
  • Before each weekly communication be sure to review the list of suggested weekly discussion topics and create a few related questions to discuss with your mentor (see sample questions at end for ideas).
  • Do not speak negatively about FSU, the Dedman School of Hospitality, or your mentors company.

Initial introduction

At least two weeks prior to the beginning your mentor/mentee relationship you will be given your mentor’s name, company, title and email address. Use this time to learn more about this person and their company.

It is the student’s responsibility to make initial contact with the mentor. Your assigned mentor will be sent your information and resume in anticipation of your correspondence. In this introduction, be sure to:

  • Use the subject line “FSU Student Mentee Introduction” to help them identify your message in their inbox.
  • Clarify expectations of the relationship. Will the majority of your communication be over phone? If so, what are days/times that work well for you?
  • Give them a day or two to respond. Mentors are working professionals, and thus it may take them a couple of days to respond to your email. If by the third day you haven’t heard from them, feel free to contact Alishia Piotrowski and she will contact them on your behalf.
  • Get to know your mentor! You can refer to the sample program outline and sample questions for speaking points.

Sample questions to ask your mentor

  • When you were in college, what did you think your career was going to be?
  • Did your college education prepare you for your current position? What would you have done differently in college to help you succeed in your career?
  • What extracurricular activities would help build a stronger resume in this career field?
  • What internship opportunities should I pursue to further prepare me for this career field?
  • What are your primary responsibilities in your current position?
  • Do you supervise others? If so, do you have any advice on supervision?
  • What is the best way to ensure a healthy work-life balance?
  • What are the biggest challenges and rewards in your chosen field?
  • What kind of work experience are employers in your industry looking for?
  • What are the typical starting positions for someone with a bachelor’s degree?
  • What is a typical starting salary?
  • What is the best way to target positions outside of the typical campus recruitment that I am exposed to?
  • What companies do you think would provide good internship opportunities to prepare me for a career in your field?
  • What do you think I can do to make myself standout against other applicants?
  • What impresses employers most in interviews and interactions with recent grads?

Sample program timeline

The Hospitality Mentorship Program lasts six weeks and takes place each fall and spring semester. You are expected to communicate with your mentor at least once per week for 30 minutes. Below is a sample of weekly discussion topics you may use to guide you through the semester, if you choose.

  • Week One: Meet & Greet. Introduce yourselves and discuss your expectations, or hopes, for this relationship.
  • Week Two: Hospitality Sector & Happenings. What sector of the hospitality industry are you most interested in? What do you hope to do within this chosen sector? Are there any trends in the sector that you should be aware of? What types of candidates are these companies looking for?
  • Week Three: Personal Experiences. Ask your mentor about his/her experiences. How did they get to where they are currently? What do they enjoy most about their job? Is there anything they wish they could change about their path? What do they wish someone had told them when they were in your position? What can you do now to prepare for this path?
  • Week Four: Work-Life Balance. How do they manage to have a work/life balance? What does that look like in your chosen industry? Hospitality can be very demanding; what do your expectations look like and how do they align with the mentor’s experiences?
  • Week Five: Professional Organizations and Networking. Talk about the importance of professional organizations and the role they play within your mentor’s professional networking. Which organizations have they found to be especially valuable? Talk about your current networking on campus.
  • Week Six: Preparation for Entering the Career. Review your resume and cover letter and ask for advice on how to improve them. Discuss your current job outlook for the approaching summer or post-graduation. Identify any shortcomings/obstacles and address how to overcome those. Address the possibility of any future conversations or the potential of a continued relationship.

Program evaluation

At the end of the program, we do ask all mentors and mentees to complete an evaluation that provides useful feedback on the program as a whole and on the matching process. The survey will be sent via email during the sixth week of the program.

Important notes to remember

  • You were selected to participate in this program because we believe that you will not only benefit from the mentor relationship, but that you will be a positive representative of the Dedman School of Hospitality and the Marriott Career and Professional Development Center. Please uphold our high standards.
  • If you miss a scheduled meeting time, contact your mentor immediately and apologize.
  • Be professional at all times! Set your social media accounts accordingly, if you have not already done so.

Get the most out of this experience. You are getting career advice from someone who is in the industry; someone who once sat where you are today. Ask about articles, books, or news sources that they suggest. Have them critique your cover letter and resume. Discuss all of the highs and lows of the industry. Most of all, have fun and enjoy the experience!

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