Thanks to a grant from RBC Future Launch, the University of Lethbridge was one of 10 schools to adopt the enterprise networking and mentoring platform Ten Thousand Coffees.

RBC Future Launch partnered with Ten Thousand Coffees to give post-secondary students increased access to networking support through alumni connections. The goal of the program is to help students build a network while they are in school to gain a better understanding of what careers are available, develop their communication skills and explore new opportunities. Having these connections in place eases the transition from school to work.

“This program benefits students by expanding their knowledge network and helps prepare them for their careers once they complete their education,” says Lyndsay Montina (BMgt ’09), manager, Alumni Relations.

ULethbridge Connect works by matching students and recent graduates with alumni. Students are introduced to a mentor based on their career interests and goals. Mentors share their experiences and advice by meeting in-person for coffee or an online chat. Since the program started in September, 398 alumni and 231 students have registered and 522 introductions have been made.

PhD candidate Victoria Holec (MSc ’13) signed up with ULethbridge Connect as both a mentor and a student. As a mentor, she met with a student who had questions about graduate studies.

“It was great to be able to share my experience and provide what I hope was valuable information to someone else to help inform their decision making,” says Victoria. “It’s also important to network with people who are working in industry because those are not necessarily experiences students get from their academic work. It gives you that real-life insight, even into opportunities you may not know exist.”

For alumni, the benefits include helping shape the futures of students and young alums by sharing career advice and experience, developing mentoring and networking skills and building a network with other alumni based on interest and industry.

Participants receive an official LinkedIn certificate to recognize their commitment, either to continuous learning and career advancement, if the participant is a student, or to mentoring and networking, if the participant is an alumnus.

Victoria doesn’t hesitate to recommend ULethbridge Connect to students and alumni.

“I would tell them to definitely sign up and fill out their profile information,” says Victoria. “The more people who sign up and fill out their profile, the more likely they’ll get a good match. A lot of us don’t know how to network. So, having that starting point of talking to someone who also went to the U of L is such an easy entry point into a networking conversation.”