Whether you're an entry-level employee or a C-suite veteran, mentorship is invaluable to career development. Having a sounding board ready and willing to give advice or brainstorm is key to long-term growth and success.
Providing professional support and guidance is one major goal of the mentoring program built into the MSM-Business Analytics Program at the Weatherhead School of Management. Each student is paired with a seasoned worker at a local company — participants include American Greetings, Goodyear, Progressive and Marcus Thomas — and can use their mentor as a resource.
SapientRazorfish is also a big proponent of this kind of personalized support. The global marketing agency has helped shape Case Western Reserve University's undergrad-level marketing analytics coursework since the early '10s, and formalized a mentoring relationship with Weatherhead School of Management's MSM-Business Analytics program last year.
"We're passionate about this partnership because we view it as like a rising tide effect. The more that we can educate the masses through partnerships like this, the more we benefit, not just as an agency, but as an entire industry," says Josh Borstein, a senior director of data science and analytics who's based in SapientRazorfish's Cleveland office.
Borstein recently took time to discuss the importance of mentoring and why it helps both students and the business community.
Q: What are the benefits for your business participating in, and having such a close relationship with, the university's programming and the MSM-Business Analytics mentorship program?
A: It's good preparation for our team members to learn how to qualify candidates in the marketplace, and to get to know them. It's a good opportunity to mentor a team member; learn what it means to have some responsibility and oversight into their success; and how to coach and guide. It helps build our team members.
And we're truthful when we say it's a rising tide. The more that we elevate every person in the industry — even those that we don't hire — the more it'll come back to us in other ways of value in the future. It behooves us to prepare everybody for success in the analytics industry.
Q: What are the students most grateful for in terms of feedback or things covered? What have they found most useful?
A: After we had some networking events [with students] where we all got together, I think they realized the opportunity they had. Recently, I met with two individuals that were looking for a little bit more guidance on the interview-specific feedback. We did these rapid-fire, speed-dating-style interviews, [and after] some people reached out to me and said, "Hey, that was a short 10-minute conversation, I'd really like to follow up," so I helped weigh in on one student’s resume and gave interview feedback to another student.
Q: In general, what is the value of mentoring? Why is mentoring important to someone who's in a master’s program?
A: We are an asset to them, an objective pair of eyes and somebody that can guide. If there's coursework, I encourage students to let us take a look. We can help answer questions like "I heard about this topic that I'm kind of interested in, but how do you bring that to life in your everyday world? Give some examples." That's a great way to tap into bringing the coursework to life.
In terms of the market and opportunity, again, it's helpful if they are just picking our brains on topics. Students might say, "I have these different areas that I was interested in exploring. What's your take on where this is evolving, and what are you looking for within your organization from a skillset perspective? And how could I begin to shape my career, and not just be a jack-of-all-trades?"
Those types of dialogues and helping navigate anything that's material to their future in analytics is really what we're keen to help out on. We're happy to be whatever they need us to be, in a way. We want them to benefit from this experience.
Q: The idea that you have control, and you're able to help shape your own destiny, can be very overwhelming if students haven't necessarily done that before either.
A: With some of the conversations I had, a lot of [students] don't necessarily know what type of role that is out there or what they want. And I think that's the perfect type of question to have us navigate with them. We're a large global agency and [can help them] understand, "Are you a better fit for someone working at an agency versus a client-side internal organization?"
Q: Why is something like this good for the city and the business community?
A: Across SapientRazorfish, we have about 12 offices in the U.S. and more abroad. From a financial perspective, Cleveland is a great market for up-and-coming talent, because of the strong university partnership we have with Case. This is an underlying hotbed of talent that I don't think a lot of others know about.