Alumni Mentoring Program Benefits Economics and Management Majors

Posted on March 2nd, 2012 by

Linda Reding '81 and Christina Semsch '11

Written by Jordan Brunsberg ’12

This fall, the Economics and Management Department’s Alumni Mentoring Program returned to campus with tripled participation and a lot of enthusiasm. Assistant Professor Kathi Tunheim, program director, was floored by the number of matches that her team was able to make, which represented a lot of work from alumni representatives, student interns, and Gustavus faculty from several different offices on campus. After many e-mails and phone calls, the program was able to recruit 37 alumni mentors, up from 12 in the previous year, with backgrounds ranging from marketing, advertising, and sales to accounting, finance, and actuarial science.

The program was founded in 2010 with the basic goal of connecting economics and management majors with alumni who could provide information and insight into their line of work. The Alumni Mentoring Program has already provided several internships, job shadows, networking opportunities, and even interviews to participating students and is really making a difference in their job searches.

The Alumni Mentoring Team, composed of Professor Tunheim and student interns Chelsea Bellingham, Alissa Fahrenz, and Jordan Brunsberg, continually strives to improve the program. Using feedback and suggestions from participating students and alumni, they work toward developing a solid framework that could transfer to any department at Gustavus. While the team realizes it still has some kinks to work out before expansion, their dream is to see the program develop into a campuswide resource that could incorporate students of all majors. Program directors are currently working on endowing the program and revamping its budget to move toward this future goal.

The program is currently a yearlong mentoring commitment that includes an opening banquet for all participants, two job shadows at the mentor’s place of work, several contacts via phone, e-mail, or Skype, and a final closing networking event in the Twin Cities. The schedule is flexible and appeals to the busy demands of the mentors’ work schedules.

“The leadership development research suggests that mentors are one of the best ways to influence and introduce young people to the workplace,” Tunheim said. “We are grateful and pleased with the Gustavus alums who have volunteered to serve in this manner.  Now we just need more of them. In the Economics and Management Department alone, we have 125 new majors a year. My hope is that each student would have a mentor in their desired field of study before graduation.”

Christina Semsch ’11 was a senior management major in 2010 when she participated in the Alumni Mentoring Program. In January of 2011, she was offered a January Interim internship with two-year alumni mentor Linda Norman Reding ’81. Reding is the current director of marketing and communications at Medica and is responsible for overseeing all online, mobile, print, radio, and television marketing campaigns produced by her company. During her internship, Semsch worked on HTML web edits, observed the launch of the new members website, helped brainstorm ideas for a corporate health care fair, observed several marketing pitches, and best of all, participated in the filming of a Medica television advertisement.

One cold January morning, Semsch was happy to see an e-mail in her inbox telling her to drive to Bryant Lake Bowl in Uptown Minneapolis for the day’s work. When she arrived, she was shocked by the scene—she was at a commercial shoot! There were makeshift dressing rooms, makeup tables, cameras, lights, and a funny old woman dressed up in a cheetah bowling suit. Linda took the time to explain every aspect of the shoot, from the camera crews to the actors. Semsch was even given the chance to be an extra in the background of several scenes. After they called it a wrap, Reding brought Semsch to the voice-over and editing appointments as well, and Semsch appreciated seeing the process from beginning to end.

Over the course of her short January internship, Semsch was able to see almost every side of marketing at Medica. “I was able to shake hands and interact with experienced marketing professionals who gave me good insight into the ins and outs of the marketing world.” Through her internship, Semsch met dozens of employees not only from Medica, but also from other marketing firms all over the Twin Cities. Semsch graduated in the spring of 2011 and is now employed at Accretive Health.

“Linda acted as a great mentor by providing me with the tools I needed to start my career in the corporate world.” She is a major supporter of the Mentoring Program and, just like its creators, hopes to see it grow in coming years. “I cannot emphasize enough the importance of obtaining professional experience before starting one’s personal career!”

The Alumni Mentoring Team extends a big thank-you to its 2011–12 Alumni Mentors:

Amy Haberman Abercrombie ’95
Scott P. Anderson ’89
Justin Barlow ’08
Liesl Batz ’90
Jim Bjork ’82
Kelly Bottenberg ’07
Erica Brown ’07
Jon Brunsberg ’79
Brittany Aase Chester ’07
Molly Swenson Cox ’95
Nancy Johnson Dahl ’83
Andrew Doble ’08
Amy Dragland-Johnson ’97
Mike Dueber ’89
Molly Dueber ’93
Bruce Ensrud ’90
Mona Anderson Gerike ’82
Margaret Wright Guelzow ’00
Wade Gustafson ’99
Joe Janasz ’84
Mike Jessop ’91
Meghan Krause ’00
Nick Kroshus ’06
John Kvamme ’97
Carmen Barker Lemay ’86
Keith Linné ’11
Tom Luing ’86
Kristina Nordstrom ’93
Megan Halvorsen Peterson ’99
Linda Norman Reding ’81
Patrick Riordan ’08
Susan Ripley ’80
Bob Schnell ’81
Nancy Ogren Thorkelson ’87
Barb Gerke Weber ’81
Luke Winskowski  ’04


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin


One Comment

  1. Paul Batz says:

    Congratulations GAC Mentoring team — we are very pleased to see the progress. Someday, this program will be a significant asset for all Gustavus students who want to get off to a great start after college. Keep up the Good work.