March 2017 Editor's Note: This post was originally published in June 2016 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
In the spring of 2002, Skip Jones and Dick Verrone, Cameron School of Business Executives in Residence and instructors, realized that CSB students were in need of professional council to better facilitate the transition from academia to the world of work. Having recently retired from long time business careers, Mr. Jones and Mr. Verrone recognized that Wilmington had a wealth of excellent professional resources in their own back yard. Many of their colleagues were newly retired business executives in the area and expressed an interest in giving back and staying connected. To capitalize this interest, the Cameron Executive Network (CEN) was formed. At first, the program was quite small. With only a few mentors involved, student participation was limited. However, over the last 14 years the network has grown in size to nearly 250 experienced business executives, both active and retired, and these executives mentor approximately 400 Cameron Business School Students.
Today the network is an integral part of the Cameron School of Business. Approximately 25% of students admitted into the CSB are CEN mentees. The program offers students access to experienced business executives who serve as both a coach and role model for these future professionals. Through the mentoring relationship, mentors assess student strengths, help mentees to develop professional and personal skills as team players and leaders, coach students in interviewing and networking, evaluate resumes, and guide students in mapping out a job search and career plan. Each student has different needs based on their course of study, work experiences and interests, so each relationship must be tailored to meet those needs.
The CEN mentors have an even further impact on all CSB students through their involvement as consultants in the Resume Assistance and Mock Interview Programs functioning in conjunction with Cameron’s Business 305 course. Additionally, many mentors speak during CSB’s annual Business Week event, share their expertise in classroom lectures, and often serve as visiting professors. CSB is truly fortunate to have so many experienced executives from around the globe involved in the success of the students.
CEN student mentees gain a great benefit from these mentoring relationships. Many have expressed that their experiences significantly helped to shape their professional futures. With the assistance of their mentors, students leave CSB feeling better prepared to enter into the next phases of their lives. The mentors often help to open doors that may have otherwise been missed opportunities for these students.
Our Mentors believe that this relationship is one of value to them as well. Being a mentor allows an opportunity to pass on insights and leadership skills to the next generation, and the advice they offer can guide students toward making informed decisions as they enter the business world. Many of the relationships formed continue long after graduation. Students often continue to update mentors on their successes and reach out for continued guidance from a now trusted friend and life time mentor.
Dan Dotson, CEN mentor of more than years, certainly sees these mutual benefits. “ I've been a mentor since 2012 and have had seven mentees graduate to date. I currently have three rising seniors that I have worked with for the past 9 months. I have enjoyed getting to know students from different areas of the country, as well as two international students. It is very rewarding to be able to stay involved and to share my experiences, successes and failures throughout my career with each student. I think this helps gain a level of trust and respect by showing them that we weren't always perfect and met roadblocks through our own careers. All of the students I have been able to work with have been very appreciative of the feedback and coaching provided and felt that the relationships developed helped them succeed in landing their first career position. I still stay in touch with each of my graduates, and recently had some follow up conversations with one as he prepared to interview for a new position. He was offered was offered that position and started in August.”