This content was produced by the Office of University Development.
This year, the University of Michigan India Alumni Association (UMIAA) launched an innovative program that pairs recent University of Michigan alumni as mentors to incoming University of Michigan undergraduate students. The mentorship program was conceived and executed by Michigan alumni in India who wanted to give incoming undergraduates more insight into life at the University of Michigan as international students.
The goal of the inaugural mentorship program was three-fold: 1) re-engage recent U-M alums who have come back to India by mentoring incoming students; 2) build relationships between UM alumni and incoming students to continue their relationship throughout their collegiate period and post-collegiate careers; and 3) give students the ability to gain insight into what their life will be like at U-M: which courses to choose, activities to participate in, internships and job opportunities to consider, and more.
In the pilot phase of the program, UMIAA paired eight incoming undergraduates with eight mentors who live in India. These undergraduates were able to gain exposure to and connect with alums who had previously lived and studied in Ann Arbor. The undergraduates in the mentorship program came from all different types of backgrounds and regions in India, and have varied career interests and aspirations. These students, who would soon be matriculating in the College of Engineering, the Ross Business School, and the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, were paired by the UMIAA committee with mentors who graduated from the same schools or who had similar career interests as the undergraduates. Mentors and mentees also live in regions in India with close proximity to each other in order to foster these relationships.
Ananya Sivaraman, an incoming freshman to the Ross School of Business, shared her first interaction with her mentor prior to leaving for U-M: “We had an hour-long call which went really well. Our common background made the interaction terrifically smooth. We talked about everything from the best spots to study, to the South Indian joints that I must try in Ann Arbor. I couldn’t have asked for a more suited mentor. My mentor’s suggestions in the coming year on courses, workload, and the general transition is something I look forward to. I hope we have the chance to connect in person when we are both in Ann Arbor in October.”
After a successful rollout of the pilot program, UMIAA plans to expand the mentorship program to include more incoming students as well as mentors, with the hopes of re-engaging the Indian alumni base and building more relationships between alumni and students. UMIAA will also be working with the Alumni Association to determine if this program is feasible in other countries with alumni who are similarly interested in engaging with incoming students. The program will be evaluated at the end of the year to assess value and impact, and a plan will then be developed for a world-wide launch in time for the 2019-2020 school year.
If you have any questions about the program, you can reach out to Sujith Yankanaik at his email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.