Banter: Alumni Mentoring

Where would you like to eat tonight?  Search Yelp.  Want to know about a product? Search Amazon’s reviews.  Have a question about a company?  Search Angie's list.  Can't decide about your future after graduating from Olin?   Search .... ummm .... well, except for finding PGP, there isn't anything, or rather there are a million things.  Where do I begin?

As a student with little experience in engineering, I have pressing questions.  For example, which classes at Olin would benefit a certain career path? Should I consider working at a start-up? What kind of research would be most beneficial? These are questions that only someone who has been through Olin classes and has started their post-college career can answer. Over the course of the past year, I have had a great opportunity to find answers to these questions by the most wonderful resource a college student can possibly have: an alumni mentor.

I came across this opportunity by chance. At the beginning of my first semester, I signed up for a program called Banter without knowing much about it. All I knew about the program was that it had something to do with alumni from Olin. I did not know what to expect, but I was curious about what I would find. After submitting a declaration of interest, I pushed it to the back of my mind and went about doing the rest of my activities.

About a month later, I was emailed by a 2010 Olin graduate who was currently working at a Google branch in NYC as a software engineer. He introduced himself and we scheduled a first meeting via Facetime. We planned an hour long, introductory meeting for the following week. The hour flew by as he told me about his job at Google, his love of software, and his latest Raspberry Pi project. We also talked about my classes at Olin and my career plans. He mentioned the classes he had taken and his favorite Olin classes.  I left the meeting feeling very informed about beginning a career in software and overly excited for what else I might learn from my mentor.

I found his stories about working at Google interesting and insightful, and was intrigued that such a large percentage of Olin alumni also worked there.  Previously, I had no idea what the daily life of a software designer would consist of, but the more he talked about the opportunities that were out there, the more confident I became in deciding to pursue a career in software design.

The next time I saw my mentor, he was visiting Olin. Over lunch, we had the opportunity to discuss many exciting things. First he gave me advice about gaining work experience this summer. He told me what his favorite internships were and which he benefited from the most. I was able to explain my current options and hear his opinion. Later that day, he held an information session here about using a new app building platform. In the session, he showed us how to build an app in under an hour. I was amazed at his knowledge base and was inspired to learn all I could from him.

After this meeting, we’ve held Facetime meetings every month. Each meeting enlightens me to a new aspect of the real engineering world. Over the course of just one year, I have already greatly utilized my alumni mentor resource.  He has given me advice on which classes to take, which research positions would be most valuable, how to navigate internship applications and so much more. I know I can also ask him any software questions that come up in my class projects.

The advice of a software designer in the working world who has sat where I sit now, and who has gone through the steps that I am about to embark  on is priceless. I feel blessed to have this amazing program available, and I think you’ll feel the same.  Check out more info about Banter here. The deadline for applications is in the fall of each new school year. To participate in the program, you can visit this website to fill out a questionnaire and find your own alumni mentor! 


William Dvorak, Alumni Mentor, Class of 2010

Check out Bill's LinkedIn here!

Posted in: Student Voices