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Mentors boost future leaders

Jyoti Gupta’s first week at the Krannert School of Management was full of excitement. She learned of the terrific opportunities available to her and met supportive people, including her Krannert Mentor, Nathan Gross.

After her first meeting with Gross, she knew she had chosen her school wisely. “I thought ‘Purdue has so much to offer and the people are so kind, I have made the right decision. This is an amazing place,’” Gupta says. One year later, inspired by Gross, Gupta applied for and was accepted to the Mentor Program with the hopes of encouraging and helping her incoming classmates.

The Krannert Mentor Program matches second-year master’s students with an incoming team of four to five first-year students. The students are matched with their mentor at Unite Week, the orientation period before the start of fall classes. Mentors coach their mentees throughout the first module and continue to give guidance well beyond those first eight weeks.

“Just as Nathan had done with our group, I wanted to help students transition into their first year,” says Gupta, who earned two undergraduate degrees from the University of Arizona and worked full time in corporate finance roles at Intel and WellPoint before coming to Purdue. “I was honored to have the opportunity to pass forward the support I had received.”

According to Heather Padget, Gupta was a valuable asset in making the jump to graduate school. “I had team members from South Korea, Taiwan, Ecuador, and India, and I was the only female in my group, so I came in with different experiences than they did. Jyoti helped make the transition easier, and gave me an idea of what to expect.”

The Mentor Program is competitive—of the 97 people who expressed interest and 56 who applied to be mentors for the fall 2011 class, only 36 were selected to participate in an experiential learning class taught by Professor Steve Green. The mentors are instructed to play the role of facilitators, helping develop the talent in their team members while encouraging them to learn about all of the opportunities available at the Krannert School.

Padget earned her undergraduate degree at Purdue and worked in IT before returning to West Lafayette. After a summer internship with Sears Holding, she will serve this fall as one of the 36 new Krannert Mentors. Gupta accepted a position as a Finance Manager with Procter & Gamble upon her graduation.

The fact that both have found favor in the corporate world is no surprise to Jen Bennett, associate director of student services for full-time master’s programs.

“It’s important for incoming students that from the minute they arrive, they have someone to help them learn the ropes,” Bennett says. “The first year, and first module in particular, can be a whirlwind. But the real benefit may be for the mentors. They get to exercise leadership skills through the onboarding process, and they make sure that their team is developing during that first module. It’s the kind of thing that recruiters love to see on a resume.”