Leeds Professional Mentorship Program

by Jillian Trubee

It took me a long time to figure out how to best get involved at Leeds. I finally heard about the Professional Mentorship Program through a friend. She talked about all of the amazing things her mentor was doing for her, even getting her a summer internship. I thought it was amazing that all of these business professionals from all over the country were giving their time and energy to students at Leeds. I knew I had to be a part of such a wonderful program.

When I first joined the program, I was a finance major and having a difficult time finding my footing in the business school. I had no idea what I wanted; I didn’t even have a direction of where I wanted to go or how I was going to get there. This program was supposed to help me with that and they placed me with a mentor who was great. I slowly started to realize that I was on the wrong path at Leeds and I needed to fix it immediately. I decided that I was more of a people person than a numbers person and switched my emphasis to management, specifically human resources. With this change, I thought getting a better insight into the industry would be helpful therefore I requested a mentor change and it was the best thing I could have done for myself in the program.

While my relationship with my mentor, Cinda, is still very new and fresh, it has been the most rewarding experience thus far. We meet every two weeks and she engages me in discussing my classes and how they relate to the HR industry. She is going above and beyond to set up coffee meetings with numerous HR directors from big name companies all over Boulder like Celestial Seasonings and Boulder Brands. I even have home cooked dinners with her and her husband at their home in Niwott. She has embraced me as her mentee and I could not be happier.  Most importantly she has helped me realize that I am on the right path and that my future is bright regardless if I don’t know exactly what I will end up doing.

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Study Abroad Showcase: Spain

P2P mentor, Lexie Hoops, talks about the exciting, yet challenging experience of adjusting to a new country and a new culture as she studies abroad in Madrid, Spain.

Lexie Hoops visits the town of Segovia, while studying abroad in Madrid, Spain.

Lexie Hoops visits the town of Segovia, while studying abroad in Madrid, Spain.

Moving halfway across the world and leaving everything comfortable and familiar behind in hopes of gaining at a minimum, some cultural experience and knowledge, is undoubtedly nerve-wracking and out of most everyone’s comfort zone.  I was no exception. However, even without knowing a single person studying through my program or in my city of choice (Madrid, Spain), what came as a surprise was how quickly I acquired a sense of adventure and aptitude for navigating my way around a foreign city, learning a new language, and exploring all of Europe on a budget.

With my new-found friends, our weekly activities include finding new tapas bars, going to museums, taking day trips by train to cities throughout Spain, going to one of Madrid’s many parks, taking Spanish cooking classes, going to fútbol games, hiking in what the Spanish call “mountains,” and of course, going to school; although not having classes on Friday makes the weeks seem much shorter! There are countless things I have yet to do in Spain before I’m homeward bound. I have trips booked to locations such as Amsterdam, Morocco, Prague and Portugal, just to name a few!

My experience thus far has, admittedly, been difficult at times but always exciting and never boring. Studying abroad gives you the independence and ability to try so many new things, meet so many new people, and travel to so many new places that it would be unthinkable to never take the opportunity.

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Study Abroad Showcase: Czech Republic

P2P Mentor, Neely Surmeier, is currently studying abroad in the Czech Republic. Read about her adventures below!


Looking out over Prague.

Ahoj from Praha! Whether I am wandering through Wenceslas Square or indulging in street food in Old Town, I am never short of things to do in Prague. It is easy to walk around the cobble stone streets of the city, while sampling sausages, hot-spiced wine, or spiral cut potato chips on skewers. It looks like I am walking through a fairy tale when exploring Prague. Strolling across the Charles Bridge and making my mark on the John Lennon Wall are just a couple of the unique activities I’ve taken advantage of. The views from the Prague Castle and the St. Vitus Cathedral are breathtaking, and allow you to see the history of this magical town.

The sunny days are few and far between in the winter, making me appreciate blue-sky days even more! The weather is now beginning to improve, and the locals are just as excited for the sun as the Americans from Boulder who are used to 300 days of sunshine a year. I am looking forward to warm days in a park, enjoying a meal at a river front restaurant, or visiting outdoor festivals!

I chose to study abroad in Prague for the unique cultural experience, and I have not been disappointed. I am a Finance major, but I am taking elective courses in Prague that are focused on local culture, for example Czech Film History, and Business Practices in Central Europe. The unique history, central location, and beauty drew me to this fascinating city. Prague also intrigued me because I never heard a negative word about it when researching study abroad locations, and Prague is a newer city to visit because the country was under Communist rule until 1989. Once you leave the touristy areas, many locals do not speak English. Where I am living is about a 15-minute commute to the city center, and I have become very accustomed to riding the trams and metros and interacting with locals. The language barrier has been a humbling cultural experience that I am so thankful to have encountered. Hesky den!

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Study Abroad Showcase: Italy

P2P Mentor, Abby Vollmer, details her study abroad experience in Florence, Italy.

Having the luxury of attending one of the greatest universities of all time, I at first was a little hesitant to study abroad and miss out on a semester in beautiful Boulder, Colorado. Though only having studied in Florence, Italy for a little under two months now, I could not be more pleased with my decision to study abroad. Between the food, the people and the amazing art, Florence has been everything I could have asked for and more.

After countless hours of deciding where to study, I finally landed on Florence for multiple

Abby Vollmer takes a weekend trip to the Louvre in Paris, France, while studying abroad in Florence, Italy.

Abby Vollmer takes a weekend trip to the Louvre in Paris, France, while studying abroad in Florence, Italy.

reasons. Aside from all the incredible things Tuscany has to offer, a huge factor was how easy and inexpensive it is to travel out of Florence. So far I have been to over a dozen cities and multiple countries I never thought I’d have the pleasure of seeing and I cannot express the incredible impact it has had on me!

While here, I am studying at Syracuse University. Academically, the course load here is very manageable and allows time to travel and explore the city. Syracuse only offers two business classes, so if you are interested in coming to Syracuse I advise you to plan accordingly!

Life abroad is definitely an adjustment, and from family and friends to a few of your favorite meals, you may find yourself missing things from home. However, after a few days here you adjust and before you know it you are loving every minute of life and are so appreciative of the memories you’re creating while discovering the world!

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Study Abroad Showcase: Spain

P2P Mentor, Molly Pagden, details, “the opportunity of a lifetime,” as she studies abroad in Spain.

After experiencing what exactly study abroad is, I can’t believe that anyone wouldn’t do it.

Molly Pagden (far right) at Parque Guell in Barcelona, Spain.

Molly Pagden (far right) at Parque Guell in Barcelona, Spain.

How many people get to put down everything going on at home and just move seamlessly into an entirely different country for 4 months, and then come back home and resume life as usual? It’s the opportunity of a lifetime! Not only are there hundreds of places to choose from, but it’s also amazing getting to meet new people from all over the world, explore new places, and completely immerse yourself into a new and different culture. While I know that school is the main focus, I’ve been in Spain for over two months and life still feels like a fabulous vacation. I don’t think I am going to want to come back!

Of course everything comes with its difficulties. You can remember the painfully awkward first three weeks of freshman year, where you have to make friends with people, and try to get adjusted to the wildly different lifestyle that is college. The same thing happens with study abroad. It took me a while to accept the fact that yes, I would eventually make friends here and get used to the whole ‘stay-up-ridiculously-late-but-siesta-during-the-day’ aspect of Spanish living. Now that I am more or less adjusted, I couldn’t be happier! I still get homesick from time to time and miss my family dearly, but the pure joy I experience every week here, whether it’s from exploring a new part of town, jet-setting off to another country for the weekend, or just sitting by the beautiful beach, more than makes up for it. I would recommend that everyone study abroad, it’s been one of the best decisions of my college career so far!

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Leeds Mentoring

By PMP & P2P mentee & mentor, Emma Bartels

Emma Bartels

Emma and her P2P mentees

Coming to college was an exciting but nerve racking time. I looked forward to the new experiences and new faces but was also worried that I may not be fully prepared for the time management of my course load, the numerous activities offered, and the overall experience of college.

After being accepted into Leeds I found the Peer-2-Peer program. I was paired with an older student in Leeds and she was a huge help. She pointed me to useful resources, helped me get involved and was a leader by example for me. I feel like without Molly’s help, I would have gotten lost in the madness of freshmen year.

I really wanted to stay involved and help other first year students just as Molly helped me. I have had six mentees over the last two years and am happy to pass on the knowledge and guidance that I have been provided with and learned from my own experience. I think my mentoring abilities continue to get better each year and I am definitely learning new things along with my mentees.

I am also a mentee myself in the Professional Mentorship Program through Leeds. My mentor is in the exact field I want to be in some day. We have formed a relationship, professional and personal. Prema shows me, without knowing it, how to become a better mentor myself.

The two mentorship programs that I have been involved with have been more beneficial then I could have imagined. I am excited to continue to grow my relationships with my mentees and mentor.

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Mentoring Across the Miles

A look at both the challenges and advantages associated with a long-distance mentoring relationship by second year MBA student Amanda Giles… 

After I had applied to graduate schools and started my MBA at Leeds, I naïvely thought that the difficult portions of navigating graduate school and a career change were over. Unfortunately, I was mistaken. I was blissfully unaware of how much I did not know about a career path after graduation and what would be required of me outside of school in order to best prepare myself for the success I was seeking. Fortuitously for me, my class was the first graduate class at Leeds inviteprofilepicamandad to participate in the Professional Mentorship Program and I was paired up with an exceptional mentor.

My mentor, Melissa Davis, had previously graduated from Leeds with her MBA and was interested in becoming involved with the school again, so she volunteered her time to become a mentor. Once we were paired up and introduced to each other, our mentoring relationship had a unique challenge: I lived and went to school in Boulder while Melissa lived in San Francisco. While many of my classmates would go out to lunch or coffee with their mentors, Melissa and I scheduled more formal monthly calls. However, after only a few months, it was apparent that the necessary scheduling of our calls allowed us much more regular communication than the occasional lunch, and thus provided me with a regular time to think about and discuss my career with Melissa.

Over the past year, as our mentoring relationship has evolved, a couple of themes have arisen which have become instrumental in the success of our mentoring relationship. When we talk, not only does Melissa ask me a lot of questions, but she also very attentively listens to my answers. I am aware that this sounds overly simplistic, but by asking so many questions, she often helps me to clarify my own thoughts while at the same time discovering areas where I may need additional guidance. However, although Melissa will give me suggestions about areas or opportunities I may want to explore, she has never told me what I should do. We both recognize that the decisions about my career and the actions required to achieve my goals are ultimately my responsibility.

In my previous career, I had coworkers and managers that I would ask questions of, or go to with a problem, but this is my first experience with a defined mentorship relationship and I feel very lucky to have been matched up with Melissa. I have learned a tremendous amount from the professors and classes I have had while at Leeds, but I don’t think there is any substitution for having one person that is invested in understanding your career ambitions and helping you to achieve your goals. As I finish up my last semester at Leeds, I would venture to say that Melissa and the Professional Mentorship Program have been an invaluable part of my educational experience.

Amanda Giles

2013 MBA Candidate

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The Value of Professional Mentoring

Second year student Allie Olson reflects on how the Professional Mentorship Program has impacted her MBA experience…

I’ve found life to be a series of serendipitous events over the past twelve months. Things, for the most part, have dropped right into place and my chance encounters have evolved into my most fruitful professional relationships. Life is good.

Overall, things have worked out well. But last fall, I was less than enthused about wearing a suit in public, much less “networking”. I was a cynic, mostly because it all sounded so intimidating. It sounded formal, stuffy, and sweaty-palm-inducing. It sounded miserable. I’m happy to say that it wasn’t, it still isn’t, and in fact, it’s pretty awesome.

Enter the Professional Mentorship Program. Last winter, when networking still sounded terrifying, I decided to apply for the program knowing that unless I was held accountable, I would probably never step foot out of my house to meet like-minded business people.

After completing the application process, I was matched with my mentor Deb Kolaras, who owns a local marketing consulting firm called Marketing Java (www.marketingjava.com). We met once in person, and have been having bi-weekly meetings via Skype ever since. It was immediately apparent that our personalities were a dead-on match, and over time we found that we shared some key, similar interests.

Since meeting Deb just nine short months ago, I have found myself more motivated to pursue my passions, namely blogging. In her, I’ve found an amazingly supportive, honest, and knowledgeable mentor. And she follows up to make sure I’ve completed the tasks I’ve committed to. For me, that’s important.

Most of all, she has centered my expectations. Last September, I was floundering; trying to decide what to be involved in, and managing a packed school, club, and social calendar. Deb has helped me put my extracurricular activities in perspective, and helped me focus on exactly what I want to do today, tomorrow, and post-graduation.

Above all, Deb and the PMP have supplemented my MBA curriculum in the most useful way I can imagine. Acquiring the knowledge is valuable, but having a sounding board for how you plan to apply that knowledge is invaluable.

Check out Allie’s other adventures on her blog – www.meadow-rue.com.

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January is National Mentoring Month!

Mentoring Matters.

Mentoring Matters.

January is National Mentoring Month!  Around the U.S., programs that provide mentorship will celebrate the value of mentoring as a source of personal development, satisfaction and enrichment.

At Leeds our students are lucky to benefit from multiple mentoring programs; with more in the works!  During the month of January we will be highlighting some of these programs and participants, providing mentoring tips and facts, and one of our own mentors will be hosting a talk about “Mentoring Perspectives from a Prominent Corporate Leader”.

Please join us and learn more about how mentoring can support you throughout your Leeds experience!  Watch for this information and more on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter @leedsmentoring.

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What the Professional Mentorship Program Has Done For Me

What the Professional Mentorship Program Has Done For Me

By PMP Mentee Andrew Simpson-Johnson

Before the Professional Mentor Program, I was a student in the Leeds School of Business that was not involved in any type of club affiliated with the college.  I wanted to get more involved in a way that would benefit me and help me meet new people.  When I first heard Katie Connor speak about the program and describe the type of opportunities that were available to those who joined, I was immediately drawn to apply.  It was the perfect opportunity for me to get more involved at Leeds while at the same time it provided me with something that I truly valued; a professional resource.

The program allows the applicant to be matched up with a professional in any industry the student prefers. For me, I was matched with Jim Huff, a senior executive with an immense amount of experience in the areas of consulting and outsourcing.  From the first time that I talked to him over the phone he gave me insightful advice and provided objectives for me to reach while we cultivated our relationship.  He introduced me to some of his closest friends and business associates in order to gain from their additional perspectives.  Jim has helped me develop my knowledge of several different aspects of the business world including networking, interviewing, resume building, interpersonal communication, maintaining a business relationship, and how to find the career that I wanted given my degree. 

Over the past year, I have learned an immense amount from my mentor, Jim Huff.  He has educated me in the most important things that every successful professional should know.  A better understanding of the professional world, the right kind of communication to those trying to help you, and the importance of a broad, well maintained, solid network are all things that my mentor has taught me.  When looking for jobs, joining the PMP gives any student a huge advantage over any other applicant, not just on paper, but almost entirely from the knowledge that you will have gained from your experience.           

After joining the Professional Mentorship Program, I quickly learned that this was not only an opportunity to build a lifelong relationship with someone, but that it also provided me with the resources I needed to expand my own network beyond what was originally available.  The program helped me build a foundation for my life after Leeds.

Andrew is pursuing a Bachelors Degrees in Economics as well as Business Administration, with an emphasis in Finance.  He is from Louisville, Colorado and graduated from Monarch High School in 2008.  He works part time as a server in Boulder and enjoys playing tennis, basketball, and skiing in his free time.  Andrew hopes to find a career in the financial sector after graduating from the University of Colorado. 

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