Aug. 16, 2010
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -
There are few tasks more daunting than finding a job after graduating from college. Especially in an economic climate that lends itself more to firing employees than to hiring them, recent grads must look for networking opportunities, job leads and any other strategies that will get their resumes to the top of the pile.
One of the greatest assets a college senior can utilize is a career mentor in his or her chosen field. Mentors serve as the guardian angels of the job hunt, helping students navigate through the foggy uncertainty of future employment. Mentors review resumes, offering interview advice and open doors for students through connections with colleagues, friends and major corporations.
Helping student-athletes in their job searches became a top priority for the Monogram Club when the economy worsened in 2008, and staff members felt a mentoring program would be the best way to assist them. Consisting of over 6,000 former student-athletes in industries across the United States and around the world, the Club represents a huge network of potential job leads and an incredible tool for current student-athletes searching for employment.
Partnering with the Office of Student Welfare & Development and the Notre Dame Career Center, the Monogram Club established a student-athlete mentoring program in December 2009, also working with the Compliance Office to ensure the program met NCAA guidelines. Later that month, the Club began advertising the service to both former and current student-athletes.
Monogram Mentoring At Work
Enter Megan Fesl, a senior outside hitter on the 2009 Irish volleyball squad. Fesl initially planned on playing professionally overseas after her Notre Dame service. However, the Arlington Heights, Ill., native decided pursuing a career with her marketing degree would be a better decision after the season ended.
"The idea of staying in the United States and taking the next step in my life was really appealing to me," Fesl said. "I started the career search a little late - around Christmas break - so looking for a new job was terrifying."
Trying to find a place to begin, Fesl heard about the Monogram Club's new mentoring program and decided to meet with an advisor in the Career Center to discuss it. The advisor set up Fesl with a mentor in Chicago - where she hoped to work - who specialized in marketing and promotions.
Enter Kevin McShane. The 1990 Notre Dame graduate and Monogram winner in football is a key member of the Club's board of directors and is a Senior Vice President and General Manager at Entiera, a software-as-a-service marketing automation company. When McShane heard about the mentoring program, he jumped at the opportunity to volunteer.
"We as Monogram winners have benefited so much from Notre Dame and always say `I wish I could give back,'" McShane said. "In my mind, the best way to do that is to help a senior who has given his or her time to the athletic side of Notre Dame - balancing both academics and athletics."
Fesl first contacted McShane prior to the Notre Dame Winter Career Fair and expected the conversation to last around 20 minutes. More than 45 minutes later, she left the interaction feeling confident and positive about her job hunt.
"The first conversation was awesome. It made everything so much less stressful," Fesl said. "He was really good at listening and he gave great advice."
McShane picked Fesl's brain in that initial session to help her narrow down her focus within the marketing field and move her forward in the networking process. After a few sessions, the two decided she should choose analytical marketing, or the use of research and information systems to formulate more efficient marketing strategies.
Over the next few months, the two Monogram winners spoke regularly, with Fesl giving McShane the latest updates on her job search and McShane connecting her with an array of marketing executives and leaders in Chicago.
The process culminated in McShane inviting Fesl to a meeting of the Chicago Area Direct Marketing Association (CADMA). At the conference, McShane introduced her to agency representatives from all over the city. Megan made a good impression on one firm, and she gained an interview at the conference that ultimately led to a job offer.
With one offer already under her belt, Fesl actively pursued another lead she found through the marketing club at Notre Dame. McShane didn't know anyone at the company, but he put her in contact with a colleague that did, and Fesl was able to prepare for her interview with Kevin's friend.
Her solid interview with the organization led to yet another job offer, and Fesl now had a decision to make.
"We had many conversations about the decision," McShane said. "I would always walk her through what's important, what she should consider, and the pros and cons of each opportunity. She made the final decision, but she would bounce ideas off me and I would always just give her something more to think about."
Fesl eventually chose the second offer, a job with Starcom Media Vest Group, where she performs search engine marketing for Google, Bing and Yahoo. She also writes digital advertising copy for Kellogg's brands including Frosted Flakes and Pop Tarts.
Now that her job hunt is over, Fesl couldn't be happier about what the mentoring program provided for her.
"To be honest, finding Kevin was the best thing I could have done for my career," Fesl said. "I felt like we maintained a very professional relationship, but he was great at helping me personally too."
McShane left the experience with similar feelings about Fesl.
"The bottom line is, it was more rewarding for me than it probably was for her," McShane said. "She really made me proud of my affiliation with Notre Dame. She is so bright, so talented and she is everything a company would want from someone coming out of college. She represented Notre Dame extraordinarily well."
Why get involved?
The partnership between Megan Fesl '10 and Kevin McShane '90 is just one success story of many with the student-athlete mentoring program at Notre Dame. However, the program is still in its infancy and the Career Center is constantly looking for new Monogram alumni to assist with the process.
"It was an honor for me to help one of our student-athletes and help her navigate the process of making the transition from student-athlete at Notre Dame to the real world," McShane said. "There's not a better way to give back to the University than to help a senior make that transition."
Fesl added that Notre Dame student-athletes would be wise to get involved with the mentoring program.
"The program is one of those resources that's at our disposal and it's totally easy to use," Fesl said. "The alumni couldn't be more willing to help. They've already set up and established themselves in the field, and it's so easy to be their shadows. It's awesome to have a one-on-one relationship with someone who knows your background and who's ready to help you in any way they can."
To find out how to become a mentor for a Notre Dame student-athlete, please call (574) 631-5450 or click here for more information.