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Mizzou Mentoring connects students and alumni

A program links Tigers past and present to build community and jumpstart careers.

Oct. 13, 2020
Contact: Kenny Gerling, gerlingk@missouri.edu

In October 2019, Cassidy Herring and Grace Corley finally met in-person on MU’s campus at the Novak Leadership Institute offices in Lee Hills Hall. Though they had never seen each other face-to-face, they immediately talked like old friends.

“The reason that first meeting was casual is because we spent a year building on what was already a strong connection,” Herring said.

Corley and Herring were connected a year earlier through the Mizzou Alumni Association’s Mizzou Mentoring Program. The program pairs current Mizzou students with alumni in their field who can answer questions and share guidance.

Cassie Reeser, who oversees the Mizzou Mentoring program, said the program is designed to build intergenerational connections among Tigers, especially right now when in-person meetings are difficult.

“Our alumni are an amazing resource for current Mizzou students,” Reeser said. “We hear from a lot of alumni that want to give back in some way, and what they end up finding is that they actually get a lot out of the mentorship as well. It can be a surprising learning opportunity for both partners."

A perfect match
Cassidy Herring

Cassidy Herring

Herring, who graduated in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and in 2018 with a master’s degree in strategic communication from the University of Missouri School of Journalism, had her dream job as a business analyst for the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee.

Corley, who was a junior at the time, wanted to learn more about a career in strategic communications. As she inched toward graduation, Corley searched for answers to big questions about internships, job applications, interviews and, eventually, networking opportunities. That’s when she turned to the Mentoring Program and found her match with Herring.

“Cassidy is only three years older than me, so we have a ton of common ground,” Corley said. “She was in my shoes only a few years ago. She knows what’s going to be coming up and can give her honest take on how she navigated friendships and her career post-college.”

Uniting Tigers

The Mizzou Mentoring Program is available to all Mizzou students, and any member of the MU alumni community can serve as a mentor. To get started, both mentors and mentees have to create an account on the program’s website. Mentor profiles are shared with interested students who choose the person they think is best for their personality, interests and goals.

Grace Corley

Grace Corley

After a connection is made, the program sends regular communications and ideas to keep the conversation flowing.

To date, more than 550 students have participated in the program and there are around 900 potential mentors who have registered.

“Never again in your life will finding a mentor be as easy,” Herring said.

Corley agreed and said that the formalized process made introductions painless. “The labels — mentor and mentee — are there already and that helps make sure there’s no awkwardness,” she said.

During their correspondence — which has stayed strong even after Corley graduated in spring 2020 — Herring introduced Corley to industry contacts around the country. She also provided feedback on resumes and internships, among other things. When Corley got an interview for her own dream job in the Chicago office of Edelman, a global communications firm, Herring helped her deliberate and make sure it was the right opportunity.

A roaring start

For Corley, the conversations with Herring paid off. She was offered the position with Edelman as part of a program to develop new talent. Though the COVID-19 pandemic pushed her start date from July 2020 to January 2021, Corley said she’s ready to take the next step — and to one day make the jump from mentee to mentor.

“It’s all what you make of it,” Corley said. “Cassidy was good about giving her two cents, and I also want to pay that forward to someone.”

Herring said she was glad to give back and join the long line of Tigers helping fellow Tigers achieve success. “My experience with my mentors in the J-School, strategic communications and Mizzou have been returned back to me tenfold,” she said.

Herring also said that Mizzou alums should take advantage of the chance to encourage the next generation of graduates: “People who are interested should do it. Go for it. Take the leap.”

Visit the Mizzou Mentoring website to learn how you can become a mentor or mentee in the program.

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