Monday, October 27, 2014

          Board of Governors Mentoring Program Positions Grads to Succeed

          New program pairs recent graduates with alumni mentors who provide targeted career track guidance.
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          Board of Governors Alumni Association President Jill Simeone and Samorn Selim, Associate Director for the Graduate Class.

          The newly created Board of Governors Recent Graduate Mentoring Program will pair recent graduates who are still seeking employment with UC Hastings alumni mentors.

          Serving as sounding boards and advisors, the mentors will provide general career advice to their mentees, help their mentees build support networks, and focus their job searches so that they’re better positioned to obtain work in the legal industry.

          Recognizing that the onset of the financial crisis six years ago irrevocably changed the legal industry and caused a dramatic decline in traditional entry-level career opportunities for law students nationwide, many people began to question the longstanding assumptions about legal education. Jill Simeone ’93, President of the UC Hastings Board of Governors Alumni Association commented, “There was a real inflection point after the crisis. People asked: Why are law schools graduating so many lawyers? Why has on-campus recruiting diminished so dramatically? Why are law firms hiring significantly fewer first-year lawyers? We are responding to these structural changes in legal hiring by pairing alums with recent grads. The goal of the program is to connect recent grads with a mentor who will help them define and achieve their own bespoke career track.”

          The new program, a joint initiative of the Board of Governors and the Career Office, is one of several proactive responses to UC Hastings’ own introspection about the transformed legal landscape. The program’s focus on recent graduates sets it apart from UC Hastings’ existing initiatives—such as the 6@6 program and the Alumni Mentor Program—that provide current students, including 1Ls, numerous opportunities to connect with alumni. “The new program emphasizes the importance of making connections that count and building a supportive community,” said Samorn Selim, Associate Director for the Graduate Class, who is spearheading the effort with Simeone.

          Recalling the crucial role mentoring has played in her own career (read more here), Simeone sees mentoring as part of the solution to the challenging job market and has made mentoring a primary focus of her tenure as President of the Board of Governors. “A lot of the recent graduates are in a tough position because of the disruption in the legal profession as they started law school.  When I graduated, a large percentage of 3Ls were recruited directly into firms or government positions through on-campus recruiting. Now, on-campus recruiting (regardless of the school) places a much smaller percentage of each graduating class. So how do recent grads find a new path to a fulfilling legal career? The Board of Governors wants to be there for them, to help them build a professional network and leverage that network into a first job,” said Simeone.

          “The mentoring program’s pilot group will consist of approximately 60 former students from the class of ‘14,” said Selim. The Career Office is currently in the process of pairing the recent graduates with alumni mentors, who will be expected to provide their mentees support and advice on a variety of topics, including resumé-drafting, conducting a proper job search, defining the “ask” when networking, and achieving work-life balance.

          While the program’s ultimate goal is, of course, to increase the number of recent graduates who are gainfully employed, Simeone notes that helping them improve their networking, people and etiquette skills are essential ancillary goals “that will serve the mentees the rest of their lives.” 

          Class of ’14 graduates who would like to learn more about the program should contact Samorn Selim at selims@uchastings.edu.


           

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