MBA Program

How Young Students Can Benefit From Experience

WHU’s MBA Program Launches New Project Mentoring the Next Generation.

WHU New Project Mentoring the Next Generation MBA

In a bid to support young students considering their options beyond high-school, a mentoring project connecting WHU’s MBA students to those from the International School on the Rhine (ISR) in Neuss, kicked off for the first time in October 2018. The program aims to combine the experience and knowledge of MBA students, with honest and open dialogue, allowing 20 high-school students to ask questions and exchange ideas.  After being paired with a corresponding ‘match’, the program offers much more beyond 1:1 mentoring, but also career coaching and help with internship applications on a regular basis, with further sessions planned mid-March and in May at Campus Düsseldorf. We spoke to current MBA students participating in the program, and their experiences so far:

“When I was younger, I had no mentor during my education so I understand how much it would have helped me’ explains Sara Pepic, a former marketing manager who completed her Bachelors in Bosnia and Herzegovina. “As the students were all very young, it seemed like a great opportunity for them to learn first-hand from us about what studying at university looks like. I wanted to share my experience both during my studies and to talk about my profession, and see if they were interested in areas where I was an ‘expert’. I feel like I wanted to share that.” 

“I wish I had more of this kind of support at that age, especially as I was entering the formative years of my career” adds Charlyn Arellano, formerly in talent development for global shoe brand Vans. “It would have helped my focus be much more defined and sharper. I like to offer my expertise in that way when it comes to professional counselling, making suggestions and having those developmental conversations. I truly see the value of human engagement when it comes to growth and I think there is no better place for that growth to happen for kids than when they’re at the age where they’re not yet hardened to other people’s advice.”

“It was my goal to come to the program with my experience as motivation to never stop chasing your dreams, to be a bit of a risk-taker, and to sometimes just listen to your gut.”

Students from both sides are matched based on a mixture of personal interests and career goals, with the purpose of facilitating open conversation, and revealing talents or abilities that can be adapted to suit professional industries that perhaps weren’t considered before.

“My mentee wasn’t sure about what she wanted to do, only that she hated math” says Sara. “We examined different options and directions where she might go in her life. From there we figured out that what she wants to do is in similar areas to me, such as strategy or international marketing.  I am happy we went from ‘I don’t know’ to ‘that might be interesting for me’. We talked non-stop for two hours and it was so fun. I could see that she felt comfortable and wanted to talk, share her thoughts, her worries, and was very open. I really enjoyed it.”

“Part of the draw to volunteer and participate as a mentor in this program, is to help younger kids who are at that very critical point in their lives.”

As the students from ISR spend time with the MBA cohort, friendships are quickly formed, “I didn’t want to be like a parent or a teacher to him, so I just asked him about his interests and hobbies” explains Joon-Koo Lee, a robotics engineer from South Korea. “I wanted to be more like an older brother so that we could get to know each other first, before helping him with a direction for his future.”

Students are then able to connect beyond the formal sessions to follow up on advice for internships or extra-curricular activities helpful for a CV. “I gave my mentee some tips on different student initiatives, social activities, and languages, basically everything that helped me from my CV that I could recommend” explains Sara. “I could see she was thinking long-term and that’s really good for somebody so young.” Other MBA students such as Charlyn check in with their mentee on a more personal level, “I felt like I really jived and jammed with my mentee. Actually, I’m having coffee with her soon to check in, see how school is doing, and how the year is going.”

For the students themselves, the mentoring program has a profoundly positive effect with many reporting that they have taken up a new-found hobby or found a fresh passion based on an existing ability. “I was very lucky receiving the mentor I was paired with” says Gleb, one of the ISR students participating in the program. “He really wanted to help me to find an internship. I signed up for this program hoping to find out what a WHU alumni's lifestyle is like. I learnt why WHU is one of the best in Germany and what benefits the MBA carries with itself. It has inspired me as I not only received a better overview of university life, but also because my mentor was so nice to dedicate his time for me.”

“This program is really fun for students and mentors. As we share our experiences…I think immediate feedback is seen”

“The students at ISR are very keen to go and study at an international university, so I see that they really like that environment which is really important” points out Sara. “If they all wish to work in big companies they will be in international teams with different people, and starting young with a mix of people and being so open-minded was really good to see. It was also motivating to them because I was young when I moved from home and pursued my dreams.” Perhaps not so surprising, is the positive effect the sessions also have on the MBA students themselves. “I’m very happy and glad that I decided to invest my personal time in this” beams Charlyn. “I’m very excited to see my mentee again because I do also get something out of it – it’s a feel-good event.”