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University of Basel

Mentor wanted – mentor found

Interview: Stefanie Hof-Seiler

Since the fall semester of 2016 the Vereinigung Basler Ökonomen (VBÖ), the alumni organization of the Faculty of Business and Economics at the University of Basel, has offered a mentoring program for students of the faculty. It is intended to facilitate the personal transfer of know-how and career planning strategies.

Mentoring is one of the most important and most effective instruments in today’s working world for exchanging information and views, learning from one another and sharing experiences and contacts. In the mentoring program of the VBÖ, alumni with well-established careers act as mentors to individual ambitious students, or mentees, helping them to further their development and broaden their professional and specialist skills. One-to-one mentoring relationships form the heart of the program: the mentors pass on to their mentees both advice on career-development strategies and informal knowledge.

The program is open to a limited number of business and economics students – ten during the pilot phase – at Bachelor, Master and doctoral level. The VBÖ acts as an intermediary, matching mentees with mentors. Care is taken not only to find a good match but also to take the participants’ wishes into account. The mentoring partnerships have got off to a promising start. The VBÖ is confident that the mentees will benefit from their contact with experienced professionals and hopes that later on they in turn will pass on their experience to younger economists.

“Engaging with a mentor helps you to recognize key competences that go beyond what is taught in the lectures and to develop them while still at university. My mentor is very dedicated and extremely helpful. I’m convinced that I’ll learn much more valuable advice from him,” says Sebastian Rippstein, one of the participants in the program.

Mentor Danilo Tondelli adds: “Supporting young associates in their working life and helping to shape their development was one of the most enduring tasks in my work as a superior. In the VBÖ mentoring program I enjoy the privilege of gaining an insight into the way the younger generation lives and thinks when exchanging views with my mentee. In addition, providing the students with practical advice that can help them when organizing their studies, choosing a career, and starting out in working life is the most important task of my privileged generation.”

Another mentee, Maik Fischer, also draws a positive conclusion: “In this day and age, when university studies are mainly theoretical, the program provides me with support at the beginning of my working life. What I like in particular is that I can discuss the direction the coaching should take individually with my mentor. I was able to reflect on my current status, for example, and also check out various firms. Moreover, I gained insights into job application processes and the instruments used in them.”

And his colleague Benedikt Porten says, “Degree studies in business and economics can sometimes be very theoretical – far from the reality of the working world. So it’s helpful to know you have a mentor with broad practical experience at your side. I consider establishing contact with the business world while still at university to be essential for one’s own career. The program therefore represents a great opportunity. The informative and intellectually fascinating conversations give me valuable tips and ideas for planning and developing my career.”

The Vereinigung Basler Ökonomen was founded in 1988 with the aim of strengthening the unity of the Basel alumni among themselves and their relationship with the university and its students. Its members, over 1500 in number, take on roles in business and society that are challenging at regional, national and global levels.

More articles in the current issue of UNI NOVA.

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