With only a few days left of my senior year of college, I find myself reflecting on the people that have made a difference during my time at Hope College. Most of the people that come to mind have become very important mentors and I hope they continue to be. 

Over the years I have learned that a mentor is someone in your life who cares for you and they truly want to coach, motivate, challenge, protect, and connect you to opportunities. I was lucky to have quite a few mentors during my time at Hope. Some of them started as professors or advisors and the relationship grew into a mentorship, while others I sought out with the desire of them becoming my mentor. No matter how the relationship formed, each and every mentor that I have has played an important role in my life whether it be helping me network for my career or simply giving me the everyday life advice that I was seeking. 

I truly believe in the power of a mentor and lucky for us Hope College students, so does the Boerigter Center for Calling and Career (BCCC). The BCCC recently launched a platform called the Hope College Connection which allows students to connect with alumni, parents, and friends of the college. Through The Hope College Connection you can explore the directory by geography, class year or major and easily set up appointments for informational interviews for networking purposes. This platform is evidence of how special the Hope College community is because there are already over 2,000 mentors that have joined and want to connect with students. I had the opportunity to connect with a few of them and I wanted to share the insight that I gained from my time with them. 

Mentor Spotlight

Andrea Paolo Mainardi ‘86  | Disrupting the Status Quo @ New Dimension in Sport® | Milan, Italy

One of the things that stood out to me as I was talking to Andrea was how passionate he was about lifelong learning. He talked about how he still looks back on some of the notes he took during his business classes. Learning didn’t stop after he left Hope College and he is continuing to learn by constantly challenging himself with new material. Also, as someone who is in a sports market that is hard to enter, his advice of having a strong personal network was very insightful. 

Andrew Van Pernis ‘96 | Project Manager at DreamWorks Animation | Glendale, CA

Andrew is someone who believes in giving back and he loves to do so by coming back to Hope every once and awhile to share about his experience and offer any advice. This is evidence of the special Hope College community that we are a part of. Andrew also reminded me of how most people take various routes to get to the place where they are. Andrew pursued multiple experiences such as a grad program, teaching, and working for a startup company before he settled down at Dreamworks.

Justine Post ‘09 | Social Worker, Advocate for Rural Communities | Graham, NC

Justine graduated right after the 2008 financial crisis so she understands the struggle that some of the seniors are facing in the current job search. She reminded me of the importance of a network that can also support you emotionally and mentally especially during these times. Justine looks back and remembers that she pieced some things together to make things work in her first two years after graduation but she reassured me that she landed on her feet and found a way to make it all work. Justine also shared about how Hope allowed for her to identify her strengths and find her passions outside of academia. 

Cathy Fall | Hope Parent | Occupational Therapist at Waterford School District | Waterford, MI

Cathy is a passionate occupational therapist who reminded me of the importance of using your strengths to discern your career path. As a parent of three students at Hope College, she understands how a Hope College education benefits individuals. She joined The Hope College Connection because she loves what she does and wants to share any advice that she can offer to Hope students. 

Lessons Learned

After meeting with each one of these mentors I took some time to reflect on the words that they shared with me. Here are the top 5 things I learned that I hope you can also find valuable : 

  1. Building your personal network is important to both your career and personal development. You can start doing this by joining the Hope College Connection. 
  2. Hope College parents, alumni, and friends are more than willing to give you advice and share their personal and professional experiences.
  3. Networking does not have to be intimidating or scary because there are people that want to help you. 
  4. You do not have to have everything figured out right after graduation. Most of the mentors shared that their journey after graduation had some unexpected twists and turns. 
  5. Pursue lifelong learning. It is important to keep challenging yourself even after exiting the educational setting. 

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