Corporate Mentor Program: Helping First-generation Students Transition into Rewarding Careers

Olivia T. Davis M.Ed., University of South Florida / The Center / July 01, 2019


For more than 25 years, the University of South Florida’s Muma College of Business Corporate Mentor Program (CMP) has helped first-generation students transition into rewarding careers. CMP is for Junior and Senior, first-gen students in the Muma College of Business. It is through mentoring, advising, and a structured course that these students are primed for their professional pursuits. The CMP office consists of two professional staff members, a Director and Coordinator, who are responsible for program oversight and execution, as well as several graduate and undergraduate student assistants. Additionally, CMP awards over $100,000 in scholarships to participating students annually.

“I would always dream about development of my career at a big firm for sure, but I didn’t expect myself to end up in the financial industry.” − Aitemir

The mission of the CMP is to help first-generation students proactively design their careers and lives in ways that help them align with meaningful opportunities across their lifetime. A central component of the program is to pair Junior and Senior students with a mentor for a full academic year. 

Newly admitted students take a cohort based course focused on professional development. This course enhances students interpersonal communication skills, and allows them to communicate competently within various organizational contexts and in groups. Students take this course within the Fall they are admitted into the program. Through participation in CMP, students are able to clarify academic, personal, and career goals; establish career plans; develop job-search and acquisition skills; and make successful career transitions.

“Over my last two years at USF, I was paired with two mentors, but my first job opportunity emerged through my relationship and experience with my first mentor.” − Aitemir

Mentors are members of the Tampa Bay business community and provide access to opportunities where students learn about interviewing and networking skills, corporate culture, and how to become leaders in the corporate world. There is a training and matching period for all mentors. Aitemir’s mentor shares that “Sometimes, they need someone who shows them a new perspective and ultimately gives them more confidence. These students are smart and sometimes all they need is a little encouragement and advice. When I met him, I knew he was brilliant as soon as he started to talk.” 

In addition to being matched with a mentor and taking a cohort based course, students have access to a multitude of professional developmental opportunities such as etiquette dining lessons, corporate tours, ballroom dance lessons, and golf lessons.

Because of CMP, students have explored career opportunities and have developed strategies for their professional, academic, and social success. They are able to build effective personal and professional relationships with Tampa Bay industry leaders. “Despite the fact that I was his mentee only for one year, we are still connected. We became good friends and I am always happy to share my experiences with him. I truly thank the CMP for introducing me to him,” says Aitemir's mentor.

Aitemir said he would, one day, want to give back to the Corporate Mentor Program and perhaps become a mentor himself. The cyclical nature of mentorship also contributes to the success of the Corporate Mentor Program.