The working world can sometimes feel worlds away for students completing their undergraduate degrees, but getting insight into a potential career path can bring those worlds closer together.
For Nicholas Gallant, school and the working world first came together in 2006 when he decided to participate in UBC’s Tri-Mentoring program. “I thought it would be interesting to check out urban planning careers and get the opportunity to meet someone in that profession. It was helpful because while I was in class, I had a sense of what went on in the real world.
Tri-Mentoring Program Connects Students and Professionals
For 10 years, the Tri-Mentoring program has connected students with mentors to help them develop professional skills and build relationships in their field. Students meet with their mentors for approximately 20-30 hours over the course of six months.
Gallant, an arts undergrad in geography and economics, was partnered with Greg Mitchell, who was, at the time, working as an urban planner for the City of Surrey. “We would sit down for coffee and talk about his interests,” said Mitchell. “I gave him a few ideas and guidance. He had a strong resume but he lacked extra curriculars, so he wowed with me by going out and becoming president of the Geography Student Association.”
The following year, Gallant, was partnered with Michael Mortensen, who was working in the private sector after a decade of work as an urban planner. “Mortensen was hitting his stride,” said Gallant, adding that it was an opportunity to witness a different stage of career development after working with Mitchell. “They were both professionals at different points in their careers, so I got two perspectives.”
Mortensen, for his part, took Gallant to council meetings and shared problems and challenges he faced in his work. “So much education is not in the classroom,” he said. “Theory can only take you so far,” Mortensen added, noting that as a grad student, he benefitted greatly from working with his mentor, the late Dr. Walter Hardwick.
More than Career Advice Found in Mentoring Group
Through Gallant, Mitchell and Mortensen also met up, and the three of them formed their own unofficial mentoring group. “The mentor relationship evolved and became friendships based on shared interests. It was a natural support system,” said Mortensen, who is still involved in the program as a mentor for UBC Arts and the UBC Sauder School of Business. “Being a mentor forces you to reflect on your work and practice. Some people don’t realize how big a door the mentorship program opens. It can be an enormous door.”