Paying it Forward: BMBAA Mentorship Program Continues into the Spring Semester
Early last fall, Kristen Little 21MBA, president of the Goizueta Black MBA Association (BMBAA), and Lyndsey Fridie 21MBA, VP of Community Involvement for BMBAA, eager to have a greater impact on the wider Atlanta community, conceived an idea for a mentorship program where Goizueta MBAs would serve as mentors for Black undergraduate students in Georgia.
The mission of the program is to support the next generation of young, Black professionals by sharing our skills and experiences as business school students.
Working with Ross Thompson, the president of the Morehouse Business Association, Lyndsey and Kristen brought the idea to fruition with the support of the other BMBAA board members: myself, the late Rob Gooden 21MBA, Tamarra Michel 23EvMBA, and Jared Alexander 22MBA. Given that there was a lot of interest across the chosen schools, Morehouse College and Spelman College, the BMBAA leadership team appealed to our classmates to volunteer as mentors. Before long, we had all the volunteers that we needed.
We kicked off the program with a webinar for the 26 mentees, during which we gave an overview of the program, as well as set expectations for all the participants. After that webinar, mentors were instructed to reach out to their mentees and together, agree on a meeting cadence. During the Fall semester, the BMBAA hosted a “Networking 101” webinar for mentees where we shared advice on networking best practices and building a digital brand, as well as conducted elevator pitch feedback sessions.
As excited as I was about being a mentor, I was also nervous because I thought I was a little unqualified. Before reaching out to my mentee, I reflected on my mentors and the aspects of our interactions that I found most impactful, as well as my experience as a manager for a team of Mumbai-based analysts prior to business school. I decided to leverage these past experiences to this relationship that I was trying to form as a mentor to an undergraduate student. I thought of all the career-advancement opportunities I wish I had known about as a student in college.
During our first conversation via Zoom, my mentee and I discussed our personal and professional backgrounds. Among other things, we discovered that we both are very family-oriented and enjoy traveling and exploring different cultures. Professionally, I had already accepted my full-time offer, and my mentee, a sophomore at Morehouse, was deciding between two internship offers. We spoke through the details of both offers and his professional goals as we tried to determine which would be the better fit for him. I wanted to empower him to make the decision on his own so I emphasized that I was confident in his decision-making skills and that both offers were spectacular so he could not go wrong with either.
In the end, my mentee chose the company that offered an in-person internship option and that had the better compensation package since, in his opinion, the internship programs were very similar otherwise. Since then, we have spent most of our time talking about classes and vacation plans. It has been really rewarding to serve in this capacity, sharing insights that I wish I had as an undergraduate student.
“Paying it forward” is a major theme of our board discussions concerning the mentorship program. All of us have benefited from mentorship and by way of our professional experiences, have learnt of other channels to reinforce our business acumen and networking skills. That’s why, this semester, the BMBAA program will host a “Business School Early Application Process” webinar for our mentees. Preparation is key so we want to let them know of various factors that they should consider as an undergraduate student if they plan to one day get an MBA, such as taking/re-taking the GMAT as early as possible (since the scores last for five years) and doing research about various MBA programs. Additionally, we will inform them of different business school application prep programs that target diverse candidates such as Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT), the National Black MBA Association (NBMBAA), the Consortium for Graduate Studies in Management (CGSM), Forte, and the Toigo MBA Foundation.
We have also created an award, the BMBAA Robert Gooden Memorial Award, in memory of our classmate and former BMBAA VP of Alumni and Corporate Relations, Rob Gooden, which will be awarded to the mentee who has best demonstrated a commitment to the mentorship program, their development, and leadership in their community.