In the spring of 2002, Skip Jones and Dick Verrone, who are Cameron School of Business Executives in Residence and instructors, realized that CSB students were in need of professional council to better facilitate the transition from academia to the world of work. Having recently retired from long-time business careers, Jones and Verrone recognized that Wilmington had a wealth of excellent professional resources. Many of their colleagues were newly retired business executives in the area and had expressed an interest in giving back and staying connected. To capitalize on this interest, the Cameron Executive Network (CEN) was formed.
At first, the program was quite small. With only a few mentors involved, student participation was limited. However, over the last 13 years the network has grown to nearly 250 experienced business executives, both active and retired. These executives mentor approximately 400 Cameron business school students.
Today, the network is an integral part of the Cameron School of Business. Approximately 25 percent of students admitted into the CSB are CEN mentees. The program offers students access to experienced business executives who serve as both coaches and role models for these future professionals. Through the mentoring relationship, mentors assess students’ strengths, help mentees to develop professional and personal skills as team players and leaders, coach students in interviewing and networking, evaluate resumes, and guide students in mapping out job searches and career plans. Each student has different needs based on their course of study, work experiences and interests, so each relationship must be tailored to meet those needs.
The CEN mentors have an even further impact on all CSB students through their involvement as consultants in the Resume Assistance and Mock Interview Programs functioning in conjunction with Cameron’s Business 305 course. Additionally, many mentors speak during CSB’s annual Business Week event, share their expertise in classroom lectures, and often serve as visiting professors. CSB is truly fortunate to have so many experienced executives from around the globe involved in the success of the students.
CEN mentees gain a great benefit from these mentoring relationships. Many have expressed that their experiences significantly helped to shape their professional futures. With the assistance of their mentors, students leave CSB feeling better prepared to enter the next phases of their lives. The mentors often help to open doors that otherwise may have been missed opportunities for these students.
Our mentors believe that this relationship is one of value to them as well. Being a mentor allows an opportunity to pass on insights and leadership skills to the next generation, and the advice they offer can guide students toward making informed decisions as they enter the business world. Many of the relationships formed continue long after graduation. Students often continue to update mentors on their successes and reach out for continued guidance from a now-trusted friend and lifetime mentor.
Dan Dotson, CEN mentor of more than three years, certainly sees these mutual benefits. “I’ve been a mentor since 2012 and have had seven mentees graduate to date,” Dotson said. “I currently have three rising seniors that I have worked with for the past nine months. I have enjoyed getting to know students from different areas of the country, as well as two international students. It is very rewarding to be able to stay involved and to share my experiences, successes and failures throughout my career with each student. I think this helps gain a level of trust and respect by showing them that we weren't always perfect and met roadblocks through our own careers. All of the students I have been able to work with have been very appreciative of the feedback and coaching provided and felt that the relationships developed helped them succeed in landing their first career position. I still stay in touch with each of my graduates, and recently had some follow up conversations with one as he prepared to interview for a new position. He was offered that position and started in August.”
To learn more about the Cameron Executive Network, please visit www.uncw.edu/cen. For further information about getting involved, contact program administrator Sara Kesler at [email protected].
Robert T. Burrus, Jr., Ph.D., is the dean of the Cameron School of Business at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, named in June 2015. Burrus joined the UNCW faculty in 1998. Prior to his current position, Burrus was interim dean, associate dean of undergraduate studies and the chair of the department of economics and finance. Burrus earned a Ph.D. and a master’s degree in economics from the University of Virginia and a bachelor’s degree in mathematical economics from Wake Forest University. The Cameron School of Business has approximately 60 full-time faculty members and 20 administrative and staff members. The AACSB-accredited business school currently enrolls approximately 2,000 undergraduate students in three degree programs and 200 graduate students in four degree programs. The school also houses the prestigious Cameron Executive Network, a group of more than 200 retired and practicing executives that provide one-on-one mentoring for Cameron students. To learn more about the Cameron School of Business, please visit http://csb.uncw.edu/. Questions and comments can be sent to [email protected].
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